Ohio OVI Laws: A Breakdown

Explanation of ORC 4511.19

Ohio’s main OVI law is found in the Ohio Revised Code section 4511.19. It states:
No person shall operate any vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley within this state, if, at the time of the operation, any of the following apply:

#1 – Operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two

The Ohio statutes clearly state that anyone operating a vehicle while influenced by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs can be arrested for OVI. The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration is 0.08%, but the court could still determine someone was “under the influence” with a BAC lower than that amount.

#2 – Operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08% to .17% by blood testing

The Ohio Revised Code explains that a person can be arrested for OVI if:

The person has a concentration of eight-hundredths of one per cent or more but less than seventeen-hundredths of one per cent by weight per unit volume of alcohol in the person's whole blood.

#3 – Operating a vehicle with .096% to .204% by weight per unit volume of alcohol in blood serum or plasma

A person can also be charged with OVI in Ohio by measuring the volume of alcohol in their blood serum or plasma.

The person has a concentration of ninety-six-thousandths of one per cent or more but less than two hundred four-thousandths of one per cent by weight per unit volume of alcohol in the person's blood serum or plasma.

#4 - Operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08% to .17% per 210 liters of a person’s breath

Similar to number two, this allows for the state of Ohio to charge individuals with OVI based on alcohol measured on a person’s breath.

The person has a concentration of eight-hundredths of one gram or more but less than seventeen-hundredths of one gram by weight of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of the person's breath.

#5 – Operating a vehicle with .11 to .17 grams of alcohol concentration in urine

Urine testing is also an option the state of Ohio has to obtain evidence of drunk driving.

The person has a concentration of eleven-hundredths of one gram or more but less than two hundred thirty-eight-thousandths of one gram by weight of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of the person's urine.

#6 – Operating a vehicle with a BAC of .17% or greater

While .08% is the normal threshold for drunk driving, Ohio delineates between DUI and high blood alcohol concentration, which it sets at .17% or higher.

The person has a concentration of seventeen-hundredths of one per cent or more by weight per unit volume of alcohol in the person's whole blood.

#7 – Operating a vehicle with .204% or higher volume of alcohol in blood serum or plasma

Similar to number three, people in Ohio can be arrested for OVI if their concentration of alcohol is exceptionally high, which Ohio sets at .204%.

The person has a concentration of two hundred four-thousandths of one per cent or more by weight per unit volume of alcohol in the person's blood serum or plasma.
#8 – Operating a vehicle with .17 grams or more per 210 liters of a person’s breath
The person has a concentration of seventeen-hundredths of one gram or more by weight of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of the person's breath.
#9 – Operating a vehicle with a concentration of .238 grams or more of alcohol per 100mL of urine
The person has a concentration of two hundred thirty-eight-thousandths of one gram or more by weight of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of the person's urine.

The statutes then go into detail about the concentration thresholds of certain drugs and what constitutes DUID or “driving under the influence of drugs.”

  • Amphetamines
    Urine = 500 nanograms per mL
    Blood/Plasma = 100 nanograms per mL
  • Cocaine
    Urine = 150 nanograms per mL
    Blood/Plasma = 50 nanograms per mL
  • Heroin
    Urine = 2,000 nanograms per mL
    Blood/Plasma = 50 nanograms per mL
  • LSD
    Urine = 25 nanograms per mL
    Blood/Plasma = 10 nanograms per mL
  • Marijuana
    Urine = 10 nanograms per mL
    Blood/Plasma = 2 nanograms per mL

Columbus OVI Law: Intoxication; Reckless Operation; Speed

Drunk driving laws are different in every state. Some municipalities even have additional laws against driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. OVI laws for residents of Columbus, Ohio are contained in both the Ohio Revised Code 4511.19 and Chapter 2133 of the Columbus Municipal Code.

According to Chapter 2133 of the Columbus, OH Municipal Code, it is illegal to operate a vehicle if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • The driver is under the influence of alcohol, a drug, or a combination of alcohol and drugs
  • The driver’s blood alcohol concentration is at or above .08% but less than .17%
  • The driver has a blood serum or plasma concentration between .096% and .204%
  • The driver’s alcohol/urine ratio is between .11 of one gram and .238 of one gram
  • The driver’s whole blood to alcohol ratio is .17%
  • The driver has a concentration of a controlled substance or metabolites of a controlled substance in their blood, plasma, or urine

To read more about Columbus’ OVI statutes, visit Chapter 2133 online. In large part, Columbus’ municipal OVI codes mimic the state codes.

OVI & Driving Privileges in Ohio

One of the most common questions we are asked by our OVI clients is, “When can I get my license back?” If an officer pulls you over and arrests you for OVI, or you’re arrested for OVI at a checkpoint, it’s likely that you were placed under an Administrative License Suspension (ALS), which lasts for 90 days. Because of Ohio’s implied consent law, which requires you to submit to a BAC test after a lawful OVI arrest, refusal to submit a BAC test can extend your ALS from 90 days to one year. The length of your license suspension is ultimately dictated by the courts, and depends on whether or not you are ultimately convicted. If found guilty of OVI, the court is required to suspend your license for at least six months and up to three years.

To recap OVI license suspensions in Ohio:

  • After a lawful OVI arrest, you are placed under ALS for 90 days
  • If you refuse a BAC test, your ALS is extended to 1 year
  • If you are convicted of OVI, the court can sentence you to 6 months – 1 year license suspension

Another common question is, “What about limited driving privileges?” Some people in Ohio who are arrested for OVI are eligible to get their driving privileges restored in a limited capacity. If you were arrested for OVI, you become eligible for limited driving privileges 15 days after your arrest. However, if you refused to submit to the BAC test, you won’t be eligible for limited driving privileges until 30 days after your arrest. This 15-30 day period after an OVI arrest is referred to as a “hard” license suspension.

To recap limited driving privileges in Ohio:

  • If you did submit to a BAC test, you’re eligible for limited driving privileges 15 days after your arrest.
  • If you refused a BAC test, you’re eligible for limited driving privileges 30 days after your arrest.

The natural question that follows is, “What are limited driving privileges and how are they different from regular driving privileges?”

Typically, Ohio judges who grant limited driving privileges to OVI offenders allow for them to drive:

  • To and from work
  • To and from school
  • For medical purposes
  • For attending court-ordered treatment

Some judges are more liberal with the interpretation of the word “limited,” so the scope of limited driving privileges can vary greatly depending on which judge is handling your case.

OVI Penalties

  • Jail Time: Many OVIs in Ohio are first degree misdemeanors and require a sentence of at least three consecutive days (or 72 consecutive hours) in jail, but no longer than six months.
  • Community Control: The court may suspend the three-day jail term requirement and instead require the offender to attend at least three days of a drivers’ intervention program.
  • Fines: Fines for most misdemeanor OVIs in Ohio are between $375 and $1,075.

In Ohio OVI penalties can actually differ from county to county, and as of April 6, 2017, Annie’s Law went into effect, making drastic changes to Ohio’s OVI laws. If you were recently arrested for OVI and have questions about what penalties you might face if convicted, please contact The Koffel Law Firm today.