Ohio DUI Laws, Limits, and Penalties

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Ohio takes safe driving very seriously!  If you get caught driving under the influence or intoxicated in Ohio, you will be charged with an OVI (Operating a Vehicle under the Influence). If you happen to be under 21, you will be charged with Operating a Vehicle after Underage Consumption (OVAUC). It is important to avoid any alcohol consumption at all costs, especially before going behind the steering wheel and risking your life and the lives of others on the road.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Test

Once pulled over, you will have to undergo a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test to determine the alcohol percentage in your body. In Ohio, if you are over 21 years of age and driving with an blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%, you are intoxicated. If you are caught under age 21, a reading over 0.02% is deemed intoxicated. Lastly, if you’re driving a commercial motor vehicle with a reading over 0.04% is considered intoxicated. You will most likely be charged with an OVI or OVAC in all of these cases.

Ohio DUI Penalties

Penalties in Ohio for DUI are a double whammy in which you have to deal with criminal charges and consequences from the BMV, officially called Administrative License Suspensions (ALS). ALS laws are harsh, in which the BMV can suspend your license if you fail or refuse a chemical test.

Below we provide a breakdown of the criminal penalties in Ohio if caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These offenses listed below are for first, second and third-time offenders:

First offense with a BAC level between 0.08% and 0.17%:

  • Suspended license for 1-3 years
  • Imprisonment for 72 hours or enrollment in an intervention program
  • Fined $375-$1075

Second offense with a BAC level between 0.08% and 0.17%:

  • Suspended license for 1-5 years
  • Imprisonment from 20 days to 6 months
  • Fined $500-$1625
  • The impounded vehicle for 90 days
  • Court-ordered drug/alcohol assessment

A third offense with a BAC level between 0.08% and 0.17%:

  • Suspended license for 2-10 years
  • Imprisonment from 30 days to 1 year
  • Fined $850-$2750
  • Mandatory drug/alcohol treatment

Driver’s License Reinstatement

When your suspension period comes to an end, you will have to make sure you completed all the required penalties from both state court and BMV. Once clearance is received, you must pay $100-$600 to restore your license. Upon approval, you will have to go through the process of obtaining a driver’s license again in Ohio.


In summary, a third offense of OVI can have serious consequences in Ohio. This includes imprisonment, fines, suspension of your license, and other penalties such as mandatory drug/alcohol treatment or assessment and impounding of the vehicle for 90 days. Furthermore, you will also need to pay a fee to reinstate your driver’s license upon completion of the necessary requirements.  It is important to check with your local DMV for more information and be aware of the laws in Ohio regarding OVI offenses.  Following these guidelines can help you avoid further legal trouble and maintain a clean driving record.