Repeat DUI /OVI Offenses in Ohio

DUI-Law-Book-300x200According to a story by NBC4i, the Ohio State Highway Patrol reports that 30% of DUI arrests (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio’) come from repeat offenders.  In Ohio, the mandatory OVI penalties increase with every conviction in ten-years (called the ‘lookback period’).  Those penalties include vehicle sanctions, license suspensions, incarceration, and other consequences.


Vehicle Sanctions
When a driver is arrested for OVI, something has to be done with the driver’s vehicle.  On a first offense, the vehicle may be left at the scene to be picked up later, or the vehicle may be towed to an impound lot.  If the vehicle is towed, it is available for release relatively quickly.

On a second offense, the vehicle is seized.  It is towed to an impound lot and cannot be released or relocated without a court order.  If the driver is convicted of a second-offense OVI, the vehicle driven at the time of the offense is immobilized for 90 days.  On a third offense (or more), the vehicle is forfeited to the government.  Vehicle immobilization and forfeiture is not enforced if the vehicle is not owned by the driver.

License Suspensions
There are two different license suspensions in Ohio OVI cases.  One is imposed immediately by the BMV, and the other is imposed by the court as part of the OVI sentence.

1. Administrative License Suspension (ALS). If a person is arrested for OVI and refuses an alcohol/drug test or tests ‘over the limit’, the BMV immediately imposes an Administrative License Suspension (ALS).  For repeat offenses, the length of that license suspension increases.

ALS for Test Refusal

Refusals/Convictions in last 10 Years
Length of Suspension
No priors One year
One prior Two years
Two priors Three years
Three priors Five years


ALS for Test ‘Over the Limit’

Convictions in the last 10 Years
Length of Suspension
No priors 90 days
One prior One year
Two priors Two years
Three priors Three years


2. Court Suspension. If a person is convicted of OVI, the judge imposes a Court Suspension.  For each repeat offense, the potential license suspension is significantly longer.

Court Suspension for OVI Conviction

Convictions in the last 10 Years Length of Suspension
No priors 1 year to 3 years
One prior 1 year to 7 years
Two priors 2 years to 12 years
Three (or more) priors 3 years to life


When a driver is convicted of OVI, the court must impose a jail/prison term as part of the sentence.  For a first offense, the jail term is a minimum of three days and a maximum of 180 days.  However, the court may impose the minimum jail term and permit the driver to serve three days in a Driver Intervention Program (at a hotel) rather than serving those days in a jail.

When a driver is convicted of a repeat OVI offense, the jail term must be served in a jail or prison, and the length of the incarceration term increases with each conviction.  For a second offense, the mandatory jail term is a minimum of ten days and a maximum of six months.  On a third conviction, the mandatory jail term is 30 days to one year.

For a fourth offense (categorized as a felony), the mandatory incarceration is 60 days to 30 months.  On a second (or more) felony conviction, the mandatory incarceration is 60 days to five years.

For all repeat offenses, the minimum mandatory incarceration term is doubled if the driver refused an alcohol/drug test or had a ‘high’ test result (.170 BAC or higher).

Other Consequences of Repeat Offenses
In addition to the vehicle sanctions, license suspension, and jail term, there are other consequences of repeat OVI convictions in Ohio.  The driver will be subjected to a fine, ranging from $525 to $10,500.  If the driver is granted limited driving privileges, the privileges will only be valid if the vehicle is equipped with an ignition interlock device and displays ‘restricted’ (yellow) license plates.  The driver will be required to complete substance abuse treatment, may incur an additional license suspension for being an alcoholic/addict, and may be listed in the public Habitual Offender Registry

Lawyers for Repeat Offenses
In the NBC4i article, Rachel Babich of MADD is quoted as saying, “The staggering number of 30,000 repeat offenders-obviously that first time didn’t teach them the lesson.”  That sentiment is reflected in Ohio’s increasing penalties for repeat offenses.  For drivers facing those increased penalties, the OVI defense lawyers at the Dominy Law Firm can help.

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