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Multiple DUI Offenses

If the DUI you received was not your first, Ohio has guidelines for determining how you’ll be charged. Chief among them is the look back period, which stipulates how far back the prosecutor can look in your record before charging you.

The look back period is handled like so:

  • In most cases, your prosecutor will look at how many OVI / DUI offenses you’ve had in the last six years, unless:
    • You were charged with an OVI / DUI and refused a breath test–in that case, he or she will look back 20 years
    • It is your sixth offense in 20 years (this becomes a fourth degree felony)
    • You’ve already been sentenced to an OVI / DUI felony–any OVI / DUI offense after that is treated as a second OVI / DUI felony, no matter how far apart

Note that if your offense was committed in the city of Columbus and you are charged under the Columbus City Code, there is no look back period — every prior conviction factors into a judge’s sentencing decision. Generally speaking, the more prior OVI / DUI convictions you have, the harsher the potential penalties.

You may be charged with an OVI / DUI either because you blew a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.08 or higher on a breath test or because an officer noticed signs of impairment after observing you driving and your failure on the roadside standardized field sobriety tests.

At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we can help you confront the Ohio criminal justice system from your arrest through to your trial. By advocating for your rights and thinking strategically about your case defense, we will maximize your chances of obtaining a positive case result. If you’ve been charged with OVI, call us today at for a free and confidential consultation of your case.

Facing Multiple DUI Offenses in Ohio? 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.

Click for our OVI Penalty ChartClick Here to see penalties in chart form (PDF).

Second DUI / OVI in six years* (simple OVI low test or drugs)

This is a misdemeanor of the first degree and carries the following penalties:

  • You will be required to spend a minimum of 10 days in jail
  • The maximum penalty your judge may impose is six months in jail
  • You’ll be fined between $525 and $1,625 ($400 – $1,000 in Columbus)
  • You may be ordered to serve part of your jail sentence under house arrest and/or with a SCRAM bracelet (18 days, with five days in jail). You’ll be on probation during this period.
  • Your license will be suspended for one to five years
  • You may regain limited driving privileges after 45 days
  • You will be required to use restricted license plates, otherwise known as “Party Plates”
  • You’ll have to get an alcohol assessment and complete any recommended treatment or education programs

Second DUI / OVI in six years* and either: (a) high test, or (b) refusal with prior in 20 years

This is a misdemeanor of the first degree and carries the following penalties:

  • You will be required to spend a minimum of 20 days in jail
  • The maximum penalty your judge may impose is six months in jail
  • You’ll be fined between $525 and $1,625 ($400 – $1,000 in Columbus)
  • You may be ordered to serve part of your jail sentence under house arrest and/or with a SCRAM bracelet (36 days, with 10 days in jail). You’ll be on probation during this period.
  • Your license will be suspended for one to five years
  • You may regain limited driving privileges after 45 days
  • You will be required to use restricted license plates, otherwise known as “Party Plates”
  • The judge will require that an ignition interlock system be installed in your vehicle
  • You’ll have to get an alcohol assessment and complete any recommended treatment or education programs

Third DUI / OVI in six years*

This is a misdemeanor and carries the following penalties:

  • You will be required to spend a minimum of 30 days in jail
  • The maximum penalty your judge may impose is one year in jail
  • You’ll be fined between $850 and $2,750 ($550 – $2,500 in Columbus)
  • If the car you were driving is registered to you, you will be ordered to turn it over to the state
  • You may be ordered to serve part of your jail sentence under house arrest and/or with a SCRAM bracelet (55 days, with 15 days in jail). You’ll be on probation during this period.
  • Your license will be suspended for two to 10 years
  • You may regain limited driving privileges after 180 days
  • You will be required to use restricted license plates, otherwise known as “Party Plates”
  • The judge will require that an ignition interlock system be installed in your vehicle
  • You’ll have to complete an alcohol/drug addiction program

Third DUI / OVI in six years* and either: (a) high test, or (b) refusal with prior in 20 years

This is a misdemeanor and carries the following penalties:

  • You will be required to spend a minimum of 10 days in jail
  • The maximum penalty your judge may impose is six months in jail
  • You’ll be fined between $850 and $2,750 ($550 – $2,500 in Columbus)
  • You may be ordered to serve part of your jail sentence under house arrest and/or with a SCRAM bracelet (110 days, with 30 days in jail). You’ll be on probation during this period.
  • If the car you were driving is registered to you, you will be ordered to turn it over to the state
  • Your license will be suspended for two to 10 years
  • You may regain limited driving privileges after 180 days
  • You will be required to use restricted license plates, otherwise known as “Party Plates”
  • The judge will require that an ignition interlock system be installed in your vehicle
  • You’ll have to complete an alcohol/drug addiction program

* If the offense was committed in Columbus, then there is no six- or 20-year look back period. Any prior OVI / DUI offense is considered, no matter how long ago it was committed.

What do low/high test, simple OVI, drugs and ‘refusal with prior in 20 years’ mean?

“Low” or “high” test refers to testing at a blood alcohol content of 0.08 to 0.17 or greater than 0.17, respectively.

A simple OVI is when in the officer’s subjective opinion the way the person is driving, the way they pull over, how they look, how they smell, what they say to the officer and how they perform on the roadside standardized field sobriety tests indicate that they are too impaired to operate a vehicle.

“Drugs” refers to driving under the influence of a controlled substance.

Finally, “refusal with prior in 20 years” refers to when a person refuses the breath test and has had a prior OVI / DUI conviction in the last 20 years (or, if they’re in Columbus and sentenced under the Columbus City Code, a prior OVI / DUI conviction, period).

Do I have to use restricted Scarlet Letter plates for the rest of my life?”

Yes, as the current law stands, there is no way to abandon restricted plates in Ohio.

Can I drink at all with a SCRAM bracelet?

No—the SCRAM bracelet is a zero-tolerance solution to driving under the influence. You should take care to avoid food that is prepared with alcohol, as this has the potential of setting off the bracelet’s alert mechanism.

Is there any way to avoid multiple DUI convictions?

Besides preventive measures (abstinence), you can consult with an attorney about the possibility of reducing your charge.

This is something that would have to be negotiated with a prosecutor and accepted by a judge. This depends on the facts and circumstances. The ultimate question is whether the prosecutor has enough evidence to get a conviction. If the prosecutor ultimately feels the evidence is insufficient to get a conviction, a plea reduction may be negotiated.

The most common reduction when charged with a multiple OVI offense is a stipulated lesser OVI offense. Basically, a prosecutor will stipulate that the judge should sentence the OVI with lesser penalties. These lesser penalties can include less jail time, a lesser license suspension, a lesser fine and no requirement for the restricted plates or interlock breath system.

Though much less common on a multiple OVI offense charge, if the prosecutor feels or is convinced by your attorney that their evidence is extremely weak, they might offer a lesser offense such as a Physical Control (sitting in the driver’s seat, with the key or ignition device in your possession, and being over the legal BAC limit) and Reckless Operation (driving in a way that is dangerous to the safety of people or property).

Both of these are misdemeanors and carry with them lesser penalties than a stipulated first offense OVI. Reckless Operation generally carries four points on your traffic record and Physical Control carries zero.

Helpful Ohio DUI Resources

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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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