DUI in Ohio

Ohio has some of the least stringent laws in the entire United States of America, and driving under the influence is more difficult to prove there than in most other states. However, it is always recommended that an attorney be consulted. In some Ohio case, the charge can be dismissed if a compentent DUI attorney finds any holes in the case.

Ohio DUI (OWI) Penalties at a Glance

Court Fines Potential Jail Time License Suspension
1st Conviction $250-1,000 3 Days 90 Days
2nd Conviction $350-1,500 10 Days 1 Year
3rd Conviction $500-2,500 30 Days
2 Years
4th Conviction $800-10,000 60 days - 1 year Minimum of 3 Years

Different Cases of DUI

In Ohio, of course, it is illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If these substances impair the driver's concentration, movements, and general physical and mental abilities, in any way, then you can be convicted. This conviction does not require a blood test; simple proof that you are impaired mentally or physically while driving the vehicle would be sufficient enough to get you convicted (thus, no blood or urine tests are required but it is possible for you to be wrongly convicted).

Per se cases of offense are also possible, in which the blood alcohol content of the driver is over 0.08%. In this case, prosecutors would not look at physical or mental impairment (that is, driving patterns, motor abilities at the time of conviction, etc.) and would instead base the case solely on your blood alcohol content.

Proving DUI

In Ohio, it is particularly difficult to be actually convicted of drinking under the influence. This is because Ohio law requires that the guilt of the offender be proven beyond a "reasonable doubt". In this case, the prosecutor needs to prove every element of the crime, and if any element is unsatisfactorily proven, then you cannot be convicted of DUI.

What the DUI Applies To?

You can be accused of driving under the influence if you are impaired in your physical or mental abilities and are trying to operate a vehicle. Well, what counts as operating a vehicle in Ohio? Operating can apply to sitting in the driver's seat of a parked vehicle while holding the keys. This is an extended interpretation of the general "driving a vehicle" DUI, so try to avoid this situation if you are a little tipsy.

Also, vehicles can be machines other than cars, such as motorcycles or bikes, or even tractors, lawnmowers, and golf carts. Boats and other watercraft is included in other sections and not covered by the main DUI law.


If you refuse the breathalyzer or chemical test to measure alcohol content of the blood, your license can be suspended for up to a year on the spot, beginning immediately. A first offense can result in fines, suspension of license, and at least three consecutive days of jail—so while offenders may be harder to convict in Ohio, the punishments for an offense are drastic.

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