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Ohio Misdemeanor DUI / OVI


    If you have been arrested for a first-offense DUI (called “OVI” in Ohio), you are facing a first degree misdemeanor charge. A DUI in Ohio typically is not charged as a felony until your fourth DUI charge.

    However, just because the offense is a misdemeanor does not mean that it is not a serious charge.

    A DUI conviction — even for a first-offense misdemeanor DUI in Ohio— carries mandatory jail time, lengthly license suspensions, high fines, and can have long-term effects on your insurance rates, job eligibility and criminal record.


    Under Ohio law, a person is guilty of driving under the influence if the person is “operating” a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or a “drug of abuse.” Under Ohio law, you are considered impaired if you have a breath alcohol level of 0.08 or greater. However, there are cases where police do charge drivers with OVI even if they blow under .08 if the officer believes the person is impaired.

    The way the Ohio law is written, it applies to both impairment from alcohol and drugs. You can be charged with misdemeanor DUI no matter what substance is involved — beer, wine, marijuana or prescription drugs — as long as you are found to be “impaired” by the court.

    A first offense DUI in Ohio is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable as follows: jail time of 3 days to 6 months, fines of $375 to $1,075; driver’s license revocation of one to three years; and probation, depending on the court and judge.

    A second offense DUI in Ohio within 10 years is also a first-degree misdemeanor punishable as follows: mandatory 10-day jail term (20 days for a high test or prior refusal in 20 years), fines of $525 to $1,625; driver’s license revocation one year to seven years; 90-day vehicle immobilization; mandatory ignition interlock (if alcohol related); and probation.


    If you have been accused of driving under the influence, talking with an Ohio lawyer is critical. Schedule an appointment with one of our Columbus DUI attorneys by calling 614-361-2804 or completing our online contact form. We offer free, confidential consultations to answer your questions and discuss the options available to you given the specific facts in your case.