OVI charges in Ohio

Columbus OVI Charges Lawyers

Persuasive representation if you’ve been charged with driving under the influence in Central Ohio

Police are on constant lookout for intoxicated drivers. If you show any signs of improper control of your vehicle such as swerving, speeding, uncertainty, switching lanes, or violating any traffic laws, the police will likely pull you over. If the officer suspects drunk driving, he/she will normally ask you to take field sobriety tests and a breath test.

The Columbus attorneys of Soroka & Associates, LLC, are highly experienced in all aspects of OVI defense and litigation. OVI stands for “Operating a Vehicle Impaired.” If you’ve been charged with an OVI, it is critical to know and invoke your rights. Properly invoking your rights can mean the difference in potentially avoiding an OVI conviction. Contact us today to get started.

What are the types of OVI offenses in Columbus?

There are two kinds of OVI offenses in Ohio:

  • OVI. An officer is able to charge a driver with an OVI when in the officer’s subjective opinion the driver is too impaired to operate a vehicle. The officer’s subjective opinion is formed by observing the way the person is driving, the way they pull over, how their eyes look, how their face looks, how they smell, how they talk, what they say to the officer, how they reach for their license, how they answer the officer’s questions, and how they perform on the standardized field sobriety tests.
  • OVI per se. The charge of OVI per se occurs when a driver submits to a breath test and the result is higher than .08 BAC (blood alcohol concentration), or the blood and urine tests are above designated thresholds for either alcohol or drugs. There are different measurements, that our Columbus OVI lawyers will explain, for measuring alcohol in a person’s urine, serum, or plasma.

Drivers can also be found guilty of an OVI if they drive with a specific concentration of any of certain controlled substances, or a sufficient combination of alcohol and drugs.

Drivers under 21 may be charged with an OVI if their BAC is just. 04 or higher. Drivers under 18 can be charged with an OVI if their BAC is just .02 or higher.

How much alcohol indicates an inability to control a vehicle?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol affects your ability to drive, based on your BAC, as follows:

  • .02. Your ability to track moving objects declines. Your ability to multi-task declines.
  • .05. You can’t concentrate as well. Your coordination falters. You’ll have difficulty steering. It will be harder to respond to emergency driving situations
  • .08. Your ability to concentrate and your short-term memory loss will suffer. Your perception will be impaired. Your ability to process information will be reduced.
  • .10. You’ll find it more difficult to stay in your lane and brake appropriately
  • .15. At this BAC level, your ability to control your vehicle will be substantially impaired, the ability to pay attention while driving will be difficult, and your ability to process visual and auditory information will suffer.

How Ohio determines your OVI charge

Ohio’s OVI penalties vary based on a number of factors, including (but not limited to) your alleged BAC, the substance you are charged with having in your system, and whether you are a repeat offender. We want to address each of these issues in full.

First, understand that your blood, breath, urine, blood serum or plasma may be tested.

Next, you should know that you can have either a Low Test result or a High Test result. A Low Test result includes:

Whole BloodBlood Serum/PlasmaBreathUrine
≥ .08%
< .17%
≥ .096%
< .204%
≥ .08g
< .17g
≥ .11g
< .238g

In other words, a person who has a BAC of .10% “by weight per unit volume of alcohol” in their “whole” blood, or who has a concentration of .13 of “one gram by weight of alcohol per one hundred milliliters” in their urine has a Low Test result.

A High Test result includes:

Whole BloodBlood Serum/PlasmaBreathUrine
≥ .17%≥ .204%≥ .17g≥ .238g

If the accused driver is under the age of 21, however, the Low Test result percentages are even lower.

Whole BloodBlood Serum/PlasmaBreathUrine
≥ .02%

< .08%
≥ .03%

< .096%
≥ .02g

< .08g
≥ .028g

< .11g

What are the penalties for an OVI conviction in Ohio?

OVI penalties are twofold: you face penalties for a criminal conviction as well as administrative penalties from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

The criminal penalties

The most serious criminal penalties you face for an OVI conviction are incarceration and fines, but you can also lose your vehicle (through immobilization or forfeiture). Most OVI charges are first-degree misdemeanors, but they are enhanceable; that means that the more OVI convictions you have, the more significant the penalties – and eventually, you will face felony charges.

Misdemeanor offenses

No. and Type of
IncarcerationFinesAlcohol treatment
1st in 10 years Between 3 days and 6 months.$375 - $1,075Optional
1st in 10 yrs. and

high test, or
refusal with prior in 20 years
Between 6 days and 6 months. $375 - $1,075Optional
2nd in 10 yearsBetween 10 days and 6 months $525 - $1,625May be required
2nd in 10 yrs. and

high test, or
refusal with prior in 20 years
Between 20 days and 6 months$525 - $1,625 May be required
3rd in 10 yearsBetween 30 days and 1 year $850 - $2,750Mandatory
3rd in 10 yrs. and

high test, or
refusal with prior in 20 years
Between 60 days and 1 year $850 - $2,750Mandatory

There are some exceptions when it comes to incarceration time. For example, a first-time offender may be able to avoid jail entirely by doing 3 days of Ohio’s Driver’s Intervention Program (DIP), and a repeat offender may be able to reduce incarceration time if he or she undergoes house monitoring or alcohol monitoring for a specific amount of time.

Note, too, that after a 2nd OVI in 10 years, the city has the ability to immobilize your vehicle and after a 3rd offense in 10 years, you can actually forfeit your vehicle under certain conditions.

Felony offenses

No. and Type of
IncarcerationFinesAlcohol treatment
  1. 4th or 5th in 10 years, or
  2. 6th in 20 years
Between 60 days and 1 year local incarceration;
or 60 days prison, with option of additional 6 to 30 months.
$1,350 - $10,500Mandatory
  1. 4th or 5th in 10 years, or
  2. 6th in 20 yearsand high test or refusal
Between 120 days and 1 year local incarceration;
or 120 days prison, with option of additional 6 to 30 months.
$1,350 - $10,500Mandatory
2nd felony
Lifetime (F-3)
Between 60 days and 36 months in prison$1,350 - $10,500 Mandatory
2nd felony lifetime, and:
  1. high test, or
  2. refusal
Between 120 days and 36 months in prison$1,350 - $10,500 Mandatory
1st (F-4) or 2nd (F-3) felony
lifetime with
RC 2941.1413
1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 years prison to be served prior and
consecutive to any F-4 or F-3 penalties as set forth
in boxes above and which may be imposed
$1,350 - $10,500 Mandatory

The administrative penalties

Failure of chemical test

No. of Offense in 10 YearsType and Length of SuspensionPotential to Secure Driving PrivilegesRestricted PlatesRestricted license / Interlock
1st90 daysAfter 15 daysOptionalOptional
2nd 1 yearAfter 45 daysOptionalOptional
3rd2 yearsAfter 180 daysOptionalRequired if alcohol-related
4th or more3 yearsAfter 3 yearsOptionalRequired if alcohol-related

Refusal of chemical test

No. of Refusal / Offense in 10 YearsType and Length of SuspensionPotential to Secure Driving PrivilegesRestricted PlatesRestricted license / Interlock
1st1 yearAfter 30 daysOptionalOptional
2nd2 yearsAfter 90 daysOptionalOptional
3rd3 yearsAfter 1 yearOptionalOptional
4th or more5 yearsAfter 3 years OptionalOptional

Other penalties and risks for OVIs

If you are found guilty or plead guilty to an OVI charge – whether it is your first offense or a repeat offense, 6 points will be added to your driving record. Your insurance premiums, if you can find insurance, will increase dramatically. Because OVIs cannot be sealed or expunged, they will be on your record forever.

What defenses do your Columbus OVI defense lawyers assert?

There are often defenses in OVI cases that can help you obtain an acquittal, a dismissal, or the ability to negotiate a plea arrangement with the prosecutor. The defenses do vary depending on the facts of your case. Some of the defenses our Columbus criminal defense lawyers may assert on your behalf.

  • The police did not have grounds to stop you, because they did not have reason to believe you were driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • The breath test, field tests, or other tests are invalid because the police officer did not conduct the tests properly, explain your rights, or because the testing equipment was not properly validated.
  • The chain of custody of the tests was broken.
  • The police did not see you driving the vehicle.
  • Other defenses depending on what happened.

We may also assert that the police violated one of your US Constitutional rights.

Do you have an OVI defense lawyer near me?

Our Columbus office is located at 503 South Front Street, Suite 205. Our office is near Rt. 23 and I-71. We make in-custody visits when necessary.

Speak with an experienced OVI lawyer in Columbus as soon as possible

There are many defenses to drunk driving charges. Often, the police make mistakes or can’t verify the accuracy of their tests. The prosecutor may be willing to reduce your charges to less serious offenses such as traffic offenses. At Soroka & Associates, we understand what defenses apply in your case. We are skilled at the art of cross-examination of police officers. To get help from an experienced Columbus OVI lawyer, call us at 614-358-6525 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our initial consultations are always free. We serve clients in Columbus and throughout Central Ohio, including in Licking County, Delaware County, Fairfield County, and beyond.