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Look back periods and DUI Law

A look-back, in legal terms, is the period of time a prior offense can be applied to and enhance the penalties of a new offense.

Ohio DUI Law Information

Drivers arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Ohio may be charged with OVI and face jail time, fines, and a driver’s license suspension.

Ohio OVI defined

It is illegal in the State of Ohio for any person to operate any vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley within this state, if, at the time of the operation, any of the following apply the driver may be charged with OVI: (a) The person is under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of them. (b) 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 (c) the person has a concentration of any listed controlled substances or metabolites of a controlled substance in the person's whole blood, blood serum or plasma, or urine that equals or exceeds the amount outlined in the statute. (Ohio Statute 4511.19 Operating vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs)

Ohio Look Back period: Varies

In Ohio, the look-back period depends upon whether a refusal was involved. Without a refusal, the look-back period is 6 years. With a refusal, the look-back period can be twenty years.

Criminal OVI Penalties in Ohio

First OVI offense

  • Mandatory minimum jail sentence from 3 days to six months
  • Fines and penalties range from $250 to $1,000
  • Driver’s license suspension for six months to three years

Second OVI offense
(Within 6 years)

  • Mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 days with maximum of 6 months
  • Jail time doubled if your BAC is high or you refuse the chemical test
  • Fines and penalties range from $525 to $1,625
  • Driver’s license suspension for one to five years
  • License reinstatement fee $475
  • Mandatory alcohol treatment program
  • Vehicle immobilization for 90 days

Third OVI offense
(Within 6 years)

  • Mandatory minimum jail sentence of 30 days with maximum of one year
  • Jail time doubled if your BAC is high or you refuse the chemical test
  • Fines and penalties range from $850 to $2,750
  • Driver’s license suspension for two to ten years
  • Reinstatement fee $475
  • Mandatory alcohol treatment program
  • Vehicle forfeiture without compensation
  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device

Fourth OVI offense
(Within 6 years)

  • Mandatory minimum jail sentence of 60 days with maximum of one year
  • Jail time doubled if your BAC is high or you refuse the chemical test
  • Fines and penalties range from $1,350-$10,500
  • Driver’s license suspension for three years to life
  • Reinstatement fee $475
  • Mandatory alcohol treatment program
  • Vehicle forfeiture without compensation
  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device

Administrative Penalties in Ohio

Drivers in Ohio have given their implied consent to submit to a chemical test if they have been arrested for OVI. Failure to consent to the required testing may result in administrative penalties which are administered by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) and are imposed regardless of whether the driver is ultimately convicted for OVI.

Drivers who refuse to submit to a chemical test at the time of their OVI arrest will have their license confiscated, and they will be issued a temporary permit to drive.

To challenge an administrative suspension, drivers must request an administrative hearing by contacting the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). If the court upholds the arrest and the driver does not win their challenge they must serve the full license suspension and meet reinstatement requirements to resume driving.

Penalties in Ohio for a chemical test refusal:

  • First chemical test refusal: license suspension for one year
  • Second chemical test refusal: license suspension for two years
  • Third chemical test refusal: license suspension for three years
  • Fourth chemical test refusal: license suspension for four years

(Read more: - state laws )



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