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What happens if you get an OVI in Ohio?

Before you down too many drinks at all the holiday parties you attend this month, be aware of the consequences of getting behind the wheel afterward. In 2016, Christmas had the most alcohol-related fatalities of all holidays, reports the Ohio Department of Public Safety, and the month of December had the most drunk-driving accidents leading to property damage. Furthermore, most alcohol-related crashes occurred between the hours of 8 PM and 4 AM.

Portage County alone had 187 crashes, leading to five deaths last year. With lives at stake, operating your vehicle under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs is a serious offense. Do not underestimate the penalties you will face, whether or not you receive an OVI conviction.

Legal consequences

Upon arrest, you may have to stay in jail overnight depending on your level of intoxication. You may also automatically lose your license temporarily if you refuse to submit to a chemical test, and you will have to pay a fee to regain it. If this is not your first offense, your refusal may come with additional penalties if the court finds you guilty of OVI.

A conviction may lead to jail time, high fines, mandatory education or treatment programs and other requirements at the discretion of the court. Penalties become more severe for repeat offenders.

Nonlegal consequences

An arrest, charges or conviction all show up on your criminal record, which may make it difficult for you to seek employment, housing and loans. In addition, a license suspension or revocation presents a challenge for you to show up to work and other responsibilities. Fees hurt your wallet, and classes and court dates are inconvenient and use up your free time.

Avoiding penalties

Obviously, not driving while impaired is the best preventive measure. However, it can be easy to underestimate how much alcohol you have had and its effects on you. If you find yourself at an OVI stop, ask to speak to an attorney right away for guidance on how to respond to police and get through the legal process with minimal effects on your life.

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