An accusation of drunk driving is one of the most common reasons for arrest in Ohio, and one of the most commonly charged crimes in Ohio courts. OVI charges affect people from all walks of life. For many people, their arrest on suspicion of drunk driving is the first time they have ever experienced the criminal justice system from the inside.
It’s not an easy experience. A person who is not prepared for it may find themselves unwittingly making self-incriminating statements to the police, and will find their words thrown back at them when they go before a court. For this and other reasons, it’s a good idea for anyone who is arrested to say nothing to the police without a lawyer present.
The penalties that follow a conviction on OVI charges in Ohio can depend on many factors, and the legislature frequently changes them to make them more strict. For repeat offenders, the penalties can include long sentences behind bars and fines in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Even for first-time offenders, the penalties can include a sentence of three days in jail and a fine of at least $375.
Criminal penalties can also include a driver’s license suspension. Once driving privileges have been restored, the driver may be required to install a device on their car that forces them to take a chemical breath test before they can start the ignition. The installation is usually at the driver’s own expense.
On top of the criminal law aspects of OVI prosecution, there is also an administrative aspect. When police detain a person on suspicion of drunk driving, they may administer a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test. If the driver shows a BAC above the legal limit, they may have their driver’s license suspended immediately, before conviction.
They will have to pay a reinstatement fee to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles before they can get it back. This is on top of any fees they must pay in the course of their criminal law procedure.