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First DUI in Ohio

The first time you get charged with DUI may be the first time you ever confront the Ohio criminal justice system. It’s an overwhelming experience for most. You’ll need to make court appearances, build a case defense, and fight hard to obtain a good outcome. Fortunately, a Columbus OVI defense lawyer can help you make sense of the complicated legal procedures and advocate on your behalf.

When you’re charged with any criminal offense, you should spare no expense in hiring the best legal representation possible. If you get convicted of OVI, you’ll face fines and/or jail time, suspended driving privileges, and court costs. Furthermore, your OVI conviction will result in higher insurance premiums, and the blemish on your criminal record could affect your employment and education opportunities.

What Are the Criminal Penalties of a First OVI Conviction?

If the prosecutor can demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was between .08 and .17 at the time you were driving, you will have to spend a minimum of 72 hours in jail and your whole sentence could be as long as six months. If the evidence shows that your BAC was above .17, you will receive a minimum sentence of 6 days.

The judge may suspend your driver’s license from 6 months to 3 years, and also order you to pay fines anywhere from $250 to $1,000. Bear in mind that the fines do not include the court fees and the costs of attending a driver’s education course and obtaining a license reinstatement.

What Are the Administrative Penalties?

When you get arrested for OVI, the police may suspend your license on the spot. This Administrative License Suspension (ALS) is separate from the license suspension that you may receive as part of your criminal sentence. Normally, the ALS lasts 90 days unless you refused to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test in which case the suspension will last 1 year. Note that there is no penalty for refusing a field sobriety or portable breathalyzer test.

You will need to pay $450 dollars to reinstate your license at the end of the suspension period. You will also have 6 points added to your license. If you can demonstrate that you have a need to drive during the suspension period, you may qualify for limited driving privileges. In this case, you will need to install an ignition interlock device to your vehicle at your own expense.

What if I’m Underage?

Ohio has strict penalties for drivers under 21 driving under the influence, who account for more than 1 out of 10 drunk driving fatalities. You can be charged with Underage Drinking and Driving (UDD) if there is evidence that your BAC was over .02 while you were behind the wheel. If convicted, you will face a maximum jail sentence of 30 days along with possible
fines of up to $250. Your license will be suspended for 90 days, and you will have 4 points added to it upon its reinstatement.

If the evidence shows that you BAC was above .08, you will receive harsher penalties including a jail sentence of 10 days to 1 year, fines between $500 and $1,000, and suspended driving privileges for 6 months to 3 years.

How Can a Columbus DUI Attorney Help Me?

You may be able to avoid the harsh penalties detailed above by arming yourself with an aggressive legal advocate to defend against your OVI charges. Every OVI case is different, but your lawyer may be able to use any of the following defense strategies:

  • Fighting the prosecutor’s evidence — The prosecutor is not allowed to use evidence that was obtained in violation of your rights. In many OVI cases, the police obtain evidence against a suspect illegally. For example, the police may have pulled you over without having a reasonable suspicion that you were committing a crime, which renders any evidence obtained from that traffic stop inadmissible at trial.
  • Refuting the prosecutor’s case — The prosecutor must prove every element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that if there is any doubt as to whether your BAC was above .08 when you were behind the wheel, you should receive a verdict of not guilty. Often times, the chemical test results are close enough to the legal limit that your lawyer can argue that there is a reasonable possibility that you were not under the influence at the time you were driving.
  • Advocating for leniency — When the evidence against you clearly points to your guilt, it’s best to cut your losses. You may agree to plead guilty in exchange for the assurance of a more lenient sentence. Alternatively, you may agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge. For example, if the evidence shows your BAC was over .17, the court may still agree to convict you of “low BAC” OVI if you plead guilty.

Your lawyer will advise you on what defense strategies may be available to you. Never plead guilty or accept a plea bargain without consulting with an experienced Columbus DUI attorney first. In many cases, there is the possibility of obtaining the dismissal of the charges or a verdict of not guilty. To learn more about how you can lessen the impact of your OVI charge, call Luftman, Heck & Associates today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.

Need an Experienced Columbus DUI Attorney? Contact Us.

If you’ve been charged with a OVI / DUI, it’s important to know what you’re up against. If you have any questions left unanswered by this page, or if you need a competent, experienced Columbus DUI attorney to fight for you in court, please contact us at or via email at advice@columbuscriminalattorney.com.

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Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP
580 E Rich St Fl 2
Columbus, OH 43215-5335
advice@columbuscriminalattorney.com

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FAX: (614) 413-2886