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A conviction for DUI / OVI can change your life. It affects not only your freedom and ability to drive, but also your ability to stay employed, reputation, car insurance rates, college admissions, housing, military enlistment, custody, immigration, travel, and ability to get a professional license.

Inexpensive DUI lawyer

At Makridis Law, we pride ourselves on offering professional legal service at an affordable price. We are a small, family-owned, firm that is able to offer inexpensive DUI lawyer services at a much lower price compared to the larger firms in Columbus, which have higher overhead costs.

What Happens When You Are Charged with DUI?

A person charged with DUI (Driving Under the Influence), also known as OVI (Operating a Vehicle Impaired), faces a number of penalties. Ohio laws require a judge to impose a minimum punishment, frequently referred to as a “minimum mandatory” sentence. But it is not uncommon for a judge to impose a harsher sentence  in cases involving aggravated circumstances, such as an accident or previous DUI / OVI conviction. The penalties for the different types of DUI / OVI offenses are outlined below:

I.  FIRST offense DUI / OVI within 10 year penalties:

      1.  The penalties for a “low-tier” First offense DUI / OVI within 10 years may include:

  • Mandatory 3 days in jail (or Driver Intervention Program (DIP) with Community Control Suspension (Probation) up to 6 months);
  • Mandatory minimum fine of $375 – up to $1,075;
  • Mandatory 1 year license suspension –  up to 3 years; may reduce suspension to 6 months with use of interlock
  • No limited driving privileges for the first 15 days (30 if refusal);
  • Restricted (yellow) plates are optional; and
  • No vehicle immobilization or forfeiture.

      2.  The penalties for a “high-tier” First Offense DUI / OVI within 10 years may include:

  • Mandatory 6 days in jail (or 3 days in jail plus 3 days driver intervention program – up to 6 months);
  • Mandatory minimum fine of $375 – up to $1,075;
  • Mandatory 1 year license suspension –  up to 3 years; may reduce suspension to 6 months with use of interlock
  • No limited driving privileges for the first 15 days (30 if refusal);
  • Restricted (yellow) plates are mandatory; and
  • No vehicle immobilization or forfeiture.

II.  SECOND offense DUI / OVI within 10 year penalties:

      1.  The penalties for a “low-tier” Second Offense DUI / OVI within 10 years may include:

  • Mandatory 10 days in jail (or 5 days in jail and 18 days House Arrest with Electronic Monitoring and/or Continuous Alcohol Monitoring – up to 6 months);
  • Mandatory minimum fine of $525 – up to $1,625;
  • Mandatory 1-year license suspension –  up to 7 years;
  • No limited driving privileges for the first 45 days;
  • Restricted / yellow plates are mandatory; and
  • Mandatory 90-day vehicle immobilization / plate impoundment if the vehicle is registered to the Defendant. However, waiver may be granted for “family or household member” if completely dependent on vehicle and immobilization would be undue hardship.

      2.   The penalties for a “high-tier” Second Offense DUI / OVI within 10 years may include:

  • Mandatory 20 days in jail (or 10 days in jail and 36 days House Arrest with Electronic Monitoring and/or Continuous Alcohol Monitoring – up to 6 months);
  • Mandatory minimum fine of $525 – up to $1,625;
  • Mandatory 1-year license suspension –  up to 7 years;
  • No limited driving privileges for the first 45 days;
  • Restricted / yellow plates are mandatory; and
  • Mandatory 90-day vehicle immobilization / plate impoundmentif the vehicle is registered to the Defendant. However, waiver may be granted for “family or household member” if completely dependent on vehicle and immobilization would be undue hardship.

If you are arrested for a second DUI / OVI in 10 years, your car will be impounded (if the vehicle is titled in your name). You will need an entry signed by a judge to get your car out of the impound lot. But, you will not be able to drive the car away because there is a mandatory 90-day immobilization period. This means you will have to have your car towed to your home and clubbed for 90 days (the car cannot be clubbed on the street). If you live in an apartment complex, you will have to get their permission prior to your vehicle being towed and clubbed there.

III.  THIRD offense DUI / OVI within 10 years penalties:

      1.  The penalties for a “low-tier” Third Offense DUI / OVI within 10 years may include:

  • Mandatory 30 days in jail (or 15 days in jail and 55 days House Arrest with Electronic Monitoring and/or Continuous Alcohol Monitoring– up to 1 year);
  • Mandatory minimum fine of $850 – up to $2,750;
  • Mandatory 2-year license suspension – up to 10 years;
  • No limited driving privileges for the first 180 days;
  • Ignition Interlock device (club) is required;
  • Restricted / yellow plates are mandatory; and
  • Mandatory vehicle forfeiture if the vehicle is registered to the Defendant.

      2.  The penalties for a “high-tier” Third Offense DUI / OVI within 10 years may include:

  • Mandatory 60 days in jail (or 30 days in jail and 110 days House Arrest with Electronic Monitoring and/or Continuous Alcohol Monitoring – up to 1 year);
  • Mandatory minimum fine of $850 – up to $2,750;
  • Mandatory 2-year license suspension – up to 10 years;
  • No limited driving privileges for the first 180 days;
  • Ignition Interlock device (club) is required;
  • Restricted / yellow plates are mandatory; and
  • Mandatory vehicle forfeiture if the vehicle is registered to the Defendant.

IV. FOURTH or FIFTH offense DUI / OVI within 10 year penalties:

      1.  The penalties for a “low-tier” Fourth or Fifth Offense DUI / OVI within 10 years may include:

  • Fourth degree felony charge;
  • Mandatory 60 days local incarceration – up to 1 year or 60 days prison, with option of additional 6 to 30 months;
  • Mandatory minimum fine of $1,350 – up to $10,500;
  • Mandatory 3-year license suspension – up to life;
  • No limited driving privileges for the first 3 years;
  • Ignition Interlock device (club) is required;
  • Restricted / yellow plates are mandatory; and
  • Mandatory vehicle forfeiture if the vehicle is registered to the Defendant.

      2.  The penalties for a “high-tier” Fourth or Fifth Offense DUI / OVI within 10 years may include:

  • Fourth degree felony charge;
  • Mandatory 120 days local incarceration – up to 1 year or 60 days prison, with option of additional 6 to 30 months;
  • Mandatory minimum fine of $1,350 – up to $10,500;
  • Mandatory 3-year license suspension – up to life;
  • No limited driving privileges for the first 3 years;
  • Ignition Interlock device (club) is required;
  • Restricted / yellow plates are mandatory; and
  • Mandatory vehicle forfeiture if the vehicle is registered to the Defendant.

V. UNDERAGE DUI / OVI:

Under Ohio law, there is a lower legal limit that applies to drivers under the age of 21. If a chemical test determines that a driver under 21 has a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) between .02 and .08%, the driver can be cited for Underage DUI / OVI.

The penalties consist of a maximum jail time of 30 days and a maximum fine of $250.00. An underage DUI / OVI charge also carries 4 points on a driver’s record, whereas a regular OVI conviction carries 6 points.

If the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is .08% or above, the penalties are as follows:

  • Jail:  10 days minimum – up to 1 year;
  • Fine:  $500 minimum – up to $1,000;
  • License Suspension:  6 months minimum – up to 3 years.

REFUSAL TO SUBMIT TO A BREATH TEST

You can choose to refuse to submit to the breath, blood or urine test. However, in Ohio such a refusal to submit to an alcohol test will result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license and a waiting period before you are eligible for limited driving privileges:

  • 1st refusal: 1 year license suspension and driving privileges after 30 days;
  • 2nd refusal: 2 year license suspension and driving privileges after 90 days;
  • 3rd refusal: 3 year license suspension and driving privileges after 1 year;
  • 4th refusal or more: 5 year license suspension and driving privileges after 3 years.

BREATH TEST OVER THE LIMIT

If you choose to submit to a breath test and test over the legal limit (.08) you will face the following penalties:

  • 1st failed test: 90 day license suspension and driving privileges after 15 days;
  • 2nd failed test: 1 year license suspension and driving privileges after 45 days;
  • 3rd failed test: 2 year license suspension and driving privileges after 180 days;
  • 4th failed test: 3 year license suspension and driving privileges after 3 years.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1.  What is probable cause to arrest someone for DUI /OVI?

There is no bright-line rule establishing what constitutes probable cause. However, when talking about DUI / OVI, probable cause requires objective facts indicating a likelihood of impaired driving. Therefore, it can include a number of different considerations, such as how you looked / smelled, how you were driving, how you pulled over, what you said to the officer(s), how you did on the field sobriety tests, and whether the field sobriety tests were properly issued by the officer.

2.  How much alcohol can I consume before driving without risking a DUI / OVI?

There are 3 types of blood alcohol tests in Ohio:

  1. Breath Test (.08% limit);
  2. Blood Test (.096% limit);
  3. Urine Test (.11g limit).

This means, for example, if your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is .08% or greater after taking a breath test, you are considered to be “operating a vehicle impaired.” The .08% figure refers to the concentration of alcohol in your breath.

Please also click on the following Blood Alcohol Level Chart and BAC Calculator as references, but these charts should not be relied upon to determine whether you are capable of operating a motor vehicle.

3.  What should I do if I get stopped and I have been drinking? 

Please click here for suggestions on how to handle this situation.

4.  Can I be convicted of OVI if I refuse to take the breath, urine or blood test?

Yes. The law presumes that if you operate a vehicle and are found to be at or above the legal limit, you are guilty of DUI / OVI. But Ohio law allows you to argue against this presumption of guilt in court. If it is proven that the alcohol level in your system is at or over the legal limit, you can be convicted of DUI / OVI even if you show no other signs of being under the influence. If you refuse to allow the arresting officer to measure the amount of alcohol in your breath, blood or urine, you still may be convicted of DUI / OVI based on evidence of impairment, such as poor driving performance, odor of alcohol, slurred speech, red and glassy eyes, and staggering and poor performance on field sobriety tests.  This is why it is important to also refuse the field sobriety tests in the event you chose to refuse the breathalyzer test.

5.  Should I agree to the search of my vehicle?

No. If you consent to the search of your vehicle, the officer can conduct a full search without a warrant. Anything the officer finds (including what he/she finds in the trunk) can later be used as evidence against you in court. Therefore, do not give the officer consent to search your vehicle, even if the officer insists or pressures you to consent. Simply tell the officer:  “Sir / Madame, I do not consent to the search of my vehicle.”

6. If I am arrested for DUI / OVI, can the officer search me and my vehicle before taking me to the police station?

Yes. After making the arrest, the officer can legally search the person being arrested and the area in his immediate control.

7.  Can I exercise my right to remain silent after I have already made a statement?

In the event you chose to make a statement, you can always stop talking at any time.  Just tell the officer: “I don’t want to tell you anything else officer-  I now chose to exercise my right to remain silent.” 

8.  Can they use force to arrest me?

Yes, and as much force as may be necessary to arrest you. But an unreasonable amount of force can be deemed an assault. After the arrest, the officer may handcuff you, and if you resist or attempt to leave the scene, the officer may even shoot you to prevent your escape. If you claim that excessive force was used during your arrest, a judge will decide whether or not the force used was reasonable based on the circumstances.

9.  What happens after I am arrested and placed in custody at the police station?

If you are arrested for DUI / OVI, a bond is usually set to assure your appearance in Court. If you cannot post the bond you may be incarcerated pending your appearance. But if a bond is posted, you can remain free as long as you show up to your arraignment date. The arraignment usually occurs within 24 hours of the arrest or the first date available if you are arrested on a weekend or holiday.

10.  What happens if I test well over the legal limit for alcohol?

Ohio currently has enhanced minimum penalties for so called “high tier” test results, doubling the minimum jail time requirement. The high tier test results are .17% or higher for breath, .204% for blood serum or plasma, and .238% for urine.

11.  What is bail?

Bail is money or other property that is deposited with the clerk to ensure your appearance at a future court date. If you return to court, as required, then your bail will be returned at the end of the case (even if you are ultimately convicted). However, if you do not come to court when required or otherwise violate your bail conditions, the bail can be forfeited.

12.  What is an Administrative License Suspension?

An Administrative License Suspension (ALS) is a driver’s license suspension associated with a DUI / OVI charge. It is called an “administrative” suspension because it is issued by the BMV. Therefore it is civil not criminal. Police will suspend your license for one of two reasons:

  1. Testing over the legal limit (.08); or
  2. Refusing to take a test

If you refuse or fail a breath test, your license will be suspended immediately (see above). The length of the suspension depends on whether you refused or failed the test, and whether you have failed or refused previous tests (see above). For example, if you have no prior refusals or DUI / OVI convictions, your suspension for refusing is one year. But a failed test with no prior refusals or DUI / OVI convictions is 90 days.

13. How can I regain my ability to drive after receiving an Administrative License Suspension?

There are two ways:

  1. Requesting a Stay of Administrative License Suspension; or
  2. Requesting Limited Driving Privileges.

Your attorney will generally request that the judge issue a stay of your administrative license suspension at your initial court date (i.e. arraignment). If the judge stays your ALS suspension, you will have your driver’s license back immediately without any driving restrictions or limitations. You will receive a certified copy of BMV Form 2261, which you can take directly to the BMV reinstatement office to have a replacement driver’s license issued.

If you choose to request limited driving privileges instead of requesting a stay of the ALS, you will have to wait a designated period of time.  The time you must wait before you are eligible for limiting driving privileges depends on whether you refused or failed the blood alcohol test, and whether you have failed or refused previous tests (see above). For example, if you have one prior refusal or conviction for DUI / OVI within the past 10 years and refused to submit to a breathalyzer test, you are eligible for limited driving privileges after 90 days. However, if you have one prior refusal or conviction for DUI / OVI within the past 10 years and failed to submit to a breathalyzer test, you are eligible for driving privileges after 45 days.

14.  Can I appeal the Administrative License Suspension?

Yes.  After you are arrested for DUI / OVI and fail or refuse to take a chemical test, you will receive a yellow copy of BMV Form 2255 and your license will be suspended. You have the right to appeal your suspension within 30 days of your initial court date (i.e. arraignment date). If you do not appeal in time, your right to appeal is waived.

There are a number of reasons for appealing an ALS, including the following:

The officer must:

  • List valid reason to stop and arrest you for DUI / OVI;
  • Request that you submit to a chemical test;
  • Read you the consequences of refusing or failing a test on the back of BMV Form 2255;
  • Let you refuse or take the test within 3 hours;
  • Find that you have refused or failed the test (above .08% limit);
  • Validly execute BMV Form 2255;
  • Check the box that says “Was placed under an Administrative License Suspension”
  • Make sure the form was sworn to and/or attested to properly;
  • File a valid / notarized form with the court or BMV within 48 hours; and
  • Give you a suspension hearing within 5 days;

You can also appeal if health problems (such as breathing, reflux, or veins) disrupt the test. This may be treated as a refusal, but this is an invalid reason for suspending your license. Furthermore, the officer cannot suspend your license after passing the blood alcohol test. He may choose to still charge you with DUI / OVI (because you may still be considered to have operating a vehicle while impaired), but issuing an ALS after passing the test is improper and should be appealed.

Overall, if the police break any of these rules, the suspension is invalid and should be appealed within 30 days of your initial court date.

15.  How is a Court Ordered Suspension different from an Administrative License Suspension?

A Court Ordered Suspension is only issued by the judge if you are convicted of DUI / OVI, whereas an Administrative License Suspension is issued by the BMV after you have been charged with DUI / OVI because you either refused or failed a chemical test (breath, blood, or urine). Therefore, it is a from a judge, not the BMV. It also comes after you are convicted, not charged with DUI / OVI.

The Court Ordered Suspension is 6 months to 3 years. But the judge often gives you credit for the time of your ALS Suspension.

16.  How to get your license back after suspension?

After your ALS Suspension or Court Ordered Suspension have expired, you must contact or visit the BMV to (1) pay a $475 reinstatement fee and (2) show proof of current insurance. If you are unsure of the end date of your license suspension, contact Ohio BMV at (614) 752-7600.

17.  What happens at arraignment?

The arraignment is held before a judge. During the arraignment, the offense(s) filed against you will be explained . You will also be asked by the judge to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Having an attorney at your arraignment is beneficial because your attorney can potentially stay your administrative license suspension (ALS), look into getting you limited driving privileges, negotiate a favorable bond for you, review the file for pleading defects, and otherwise get a feel about your case. If you have only spoken to an attorney before your arraignment date, explain this to the judge and enter a plea of not guilty in your case.

CONTACT US

A person charged with DUI / OVI in Ohio faces serious consequences and needs legal representation. With 33-years experience in DUI / OVI defense, we can formulate a defense strategy that best fits your needs. And remember, time is of the essence. For example, you only have 30 days from your arraignment date to file an appeal of the Administrative License Suspension (ALS), and only 35 days after your arraignment date to file a motion to suppress evidence. Also, a jury demand needs to be filed within 7 days of the trial date and of course before that there are exhaustive discovery requests.

When the stakes are high, experience matters. Call Dimitri Makridis at (614) 349-4490 or Irene Makridis at (330) 394-1587 for a free DUI / OVI case evaluation today.