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What happens after a first OVI conviction in Ohio?

On Behalf of | Nov 7, 2023 | Drunk Driving

Operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) offenses are relatively common in Ohio. Some people get arrested at the scene of a car crash, while others end up prosecuted because of something that happens during a traffic stop.

Some people make the mistake of being dismissive of first-time OVI charges. Particularly if someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is under 0.17% and the situation results in a technical infraction rather than an arrest related to a crash that caused property damage or injuries to others, they might expect that the consequences they’ll face will be minor.

However, judges in Ohio ultimately determine what penalties they will impose for an impaired driving infraction based on their perception, not someone’s expectation of lenience. Those who plead guilty could face any of the consequences permitted under Ohio state law.

There are multiple possible penalties

There are two scenarios in which a judge will use first-time OVI sentencing guidelines after someone’s arrest for impaired driving in Ohio. The first is when the driver has never violated impaired driving statutes before. The second is when their prior OVI offense was at least 10 years before their current legal issue. If someone has gone a decade or longer since their last OVI arrest, a judge it should treat their charges the same as a first-time offense.

The judge can order someone to pay fines after an OVI conviction. The possible fines for a first offense range from $375 to $1,075, in addition to court costs and license reinstatement fees. A judge can also impose a jail sentence of anywhere from three days to six months in jail. They can also order someone to attend a Driver Intervention Program. Finally, a judge can suspend someone’s driver’s license for between one and three years, although people can sometimes regain limited driving privileges after serving the first 90 days of the suspension.

People sometimes make the mistake of thinking that pleading guilty is the best option, but the reality is that avoiding a conviction is typically the best possible option. There are numerous ways to fend against OVI charges depending on the situation. Reviewing the state’s evidence with a skilled attorney can be a good starting point for those who want to avoid criminal consequences after a recent arrest.