Ohio DUI Laws (All You Should Know)

Ohio DUI Laws (All You Should Know)

You probably hear it many times — DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!

It’s not only very dangerous, but it’s against the law, too. 

And you know what that means — harsh penalties are waiting if you break it. 

But what exactly are the Ohio DUI laws?

What about the other laws related to it?

What are the penalties?

We’re here to answer all that and more. 

So let’s dive right in. 

DUI Laws in Ohio

Ohio DUI Laws

There are several laws related to DUI in Ohio. This includes:

  • Illegal BAC levels
  • Implied Consent law
  • Drugs and driving 
  • Open container law

To understand each one, let’s take a close look at them.

Illegal BAC Levels

You are considered driving under the influence if your blood alcohol content (BAC) reaches a certain percentage. 

In Ohio, the illegal BAC levels are as follows:

  • 0.08% for drivers 21 years old and above
  • 0.04% for drivers that hold a commercial license
  • 0.02% for drivers that are below 21 years old 

As you can see, the more dangerous it is, the lower the illegal BAC level. 

Implied Consent Law 

But how is your BAC level determined?

Well, if a law enforcement officer has reason to suspect you of DUI (let’s say you’re swerving from lane to lane), he can pull you over and issue a chemical test. 

This will be either field sobriety, blood, breath, or urine test. 

And under the Implied Consent law, you must take it. Refusal could mean a 1-year license suspension. 

But there are some who simply refuse. 

They won’t take the test — no matter what. 

If this is you, then you’ll need to hire an attorney to help you get rid of the consequences of that. 

Drugs and Driving 

It’s not just alcohol that impairs your driving.

It’s drugs, too. 

So if you’re stopped and found to have drugs in your bloodstream, you will be charged with DUI. 

And no, we don’t just mean illegal drugs — any drug that affects your ability to operate a vehicle safely. This includes: 

  • Over-the-counter drugs: even OTCs can affect your driving abilities. Check the warning labels or ask your doctor if there are any side effects to look out for before you start taking them.
  • Prescription drugs – pain reducers, antidepressants, and sedatives are some of the prescription drugs that may affect your ability to drive.
  • Illegal drugs – weed, meth, and other illegal drugs can affect your reflexes, judgment, vision, and alertness. 

Never drive while under the influence of any impairing drugs.

Open Container Law 

To further prevent DUI, the State of Ohio implemented the Open Container law. 

This states that “You cannot carry an open container of alcoholic drinks in a moving or stationary vehicle, at a liquor store, or in a public space.”

However, this law does not apply to people renting a limousine and they sit at the back. 

If you need to transport alcohol, it should always be sealed. What’s more, it should be placed where no one can reach it, such as in the vehicle’s trunk. 

DUI Penalties in Ohio

Yes, a DUI conviction comes with HARSH penalties. 

In Ohio, there are 2 types of penalties:

  • Administrative penalties
  • Criminal penalties 

Let’s look at both. 

DUI Administrative Penalties in Ohio

If you are convicted of DUI or refuse to take a chemical test, you will face a license suspension. 

Now, the length of suspension will depend on the number of DUI offenses in your record within the past 10 years. This is called the “lookback” period. 

  • First offense: 90 days license suspension and 15 days waiting period to apply for limited driving privileges. You will also receive 6 points in your record. 
  • Second offense: 1-year license suspension and 15 days for limited driving privileges. Plus, 6 points in your driving record. 
  • Third offense: 2 years license suspension and 180 days waiting period to apply for limited driving privileges. 6 points will be added to your record. 
  • Fourth and subsequent offenses: 3 years license suspension and 3 years waiting period to apply for limited driving privileges. 6 points will also be added to your license. 

If you have been convicted of 3 or more DUIs within the past 7 years, you will no longer be eligible to apply for limited driving privileges. 

The number of times you refuse to take a chemical test also affects how long your license will be suspended:

  • First refusal: 1-year license suspension. You may apply for limited driving privileges after 30 days.
  • Second refusal: 2 years license suspension. You may apply for limited driving privileges after 90 days.
  • Third refusal: 3 years license suspension. You may apply for limited driving privileges after 1 year.
  • Fourth and subsequent refusals: 5 years license suspension. You may apply for limited driving privileges after 3 years.

Remember, these penalties are separate from any consequences you may face from the court if convicted of a DUI charge. 

DUI Criminal Penalties in Ohio

Aside from your administrative license suspensions, there are also criminal penalties that you’ll have to face.

The following are the consequences of a low-tier DUI conviction:

  • First offense: 3 days to 6 months of jail time, $375 to $1,075 in fines, and a license suspension of 1 to 3 years.
  • Second offense: 10 days to 6 months of jail time, $525 to $1,625 in fines, and a license suspension of 1 to 7 years.
  • Third offense: 30 days to 1 year of jail time, $850 to $2,750 in fines, and a license suspension of 2 to 12 years.

You can reduce jail time if you join the Community Control Sanction. 

On the other hand, if you were convicted of a high-BAC or aggravated DUI, you will face the following consequences on top penalties we previously mentioned:

  • First offense: 3 days to 6 months of jail time and 3 days of driver’s intervention program. May need to take a substance abuse treatment. 
  • Second offense: at least 20 days of jail time OR 10 days of jail time and 36 days in house arrest under the watch of the Community Control Sanction. You’re also required to take a substance abuse treatment. 
  • Third offense and onwards: 60 days of jail time OR 30 days of jail time and 110 days of house arrest under the watch of the Community Control Sanction. Substance abuse treatment is required. 

Effects of Alcohol and Drugs 

But why are the penalties so harsh?

Why is DUI a big NO in Ohio?


And you’ll understand this more when you know the effects alcohol and drugs have on your body. 

Here are the effects of alcohol and drugs:

  • VISION – blurred vision, impaired focus, impaired ability to judge distance, driving speed, and movement of other vehicles on the road.
  • REACTION TIME – slower response time to other moving vehicles and driving tasks, impaired ability to process information.
  • JUDGEMENT – reduced ability to make sound judgments, quick decisions, and accurately perceive one’s surroundings.


Let’s run over a few FAQs about Ohio DUI laws for even more information. 

Will I go to jail for my first DUI in Ohio?

Yes. Your first DUI offense in Ohio will most likely be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. This means you will be required to complete at least 3 days up to 6 months in jail. 

That said, you can join the Community Control Sanction to reduce jail time.

Is your license suspended immediately after a DUI in Ohio?

Yes, it is. How long it’s suspended will depend on several factors — but it can be as short as 90 days or as long as 3 years. 

You may be allowed limited driving privileges for school, work, or court-mandated treatments.

Can DUI be dismissed in Ohio?

Yes, it can. This is IF the prosecution cannot prove that the officer had probable cause to suspect you of DUI. 

We highly advise you to hire a lawyer in this case. 

How long till DUI is off record in Ohio?

The 6 DUI points on your license will drop off after 2 years, but the conviction will remain on your record forever.

What is the difference between OVI and DUI in Ohio?

There isn’t much difference between operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) and driving under the influence (DUI). They all technically refer to the same thing: DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED WITH ALCOHOL OR DRUGS. 

But if you want to get specific, you will be charged with an OVI if you have a BAC of higher than 0.08%.

You will be charged with a DUI if you were found with a BAC of 0.08% and you’re 21 and above OR a BAC of 0.02% and you’re under 21. 

How much does insurance go up after DUI in Ohio?

For the next 3 years of having a DUI on your record, your auto insurance rate will increase to 58.14% annually. You can count this in the “consequences” of DUI.


And that was everything you need to know about Ohio DUI laws. 

Sure, we’re not saying don’t drink alcohol. 

That’s totally fine. 

What we’re saying is — NEVER DRIVE WHEN YOU DO.

Because if you do, then you’re putting everyone in danger. 

What’s more, there are harsh penalties that are waiting for you. 

So always be a safe and responsible driver.

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