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DUI Defense

Is it legal to carry a weapon while intoxicated in Ohio?

By October 12, 2022April 8th, 2024No Comments

The risks of carrying a weapon or firearm while intoxicated may seem obvious. However, the law that prohibits carrying a weapon while intoxicated could affect everyday people in unexpected ways.

For example, someone who carries a weapon in their purse for self-defense may be penalized while walking to the car after a night at the bar. Someone who drives home after having a drink with dinner could be penalized if there’s a weapon in their glove compartment.

Hiltner Trial Lawyers, an Akron-based criminal defense team, unpacks this important code, as well as its implications for people like you and your family.

What is the Ohio Law About Using Weapons While Intoxicated?

The state law about using weapons while intoxicated may seem quite simple, especially because it is a brief code with only two parts. However, terminology in the code can be interpreted in ways that may be unexpected.

The law states that:

  1. No person, while under the influence of alcohol or any drug of abuse, shall carry or use any firearm or dangerous ordnance.
  2. Whoever violates this section of using weapons while intoxicated, a misdemeanor of the first degree. 

The law isn’t as black and white as it seems. 

On just the surface, most can see the law implies anyone carrying a firearm or “dangerous ordnance” can be charged with using weapons while intoxicated. Perpetrators don’t even need to actively hold or operate weapons to be charged.

Additionally, the term “under the influence” does not have a numeric or specific definition. It can also be applied broadly. Even if someone isn’t legally intoxicated based on blood alcohol content, they could still be considered “under the influence.”

Drugs of Abuse

One clearer part of the law is the term “drug of abuse.” The state defines “drugs of abuse” as controlled substances, harmful intoxicants or dangerous drugs as drugs of abuse.

They also list drugs under each category.

  • Controlled substances include marijuana, meth, cocaine, heroin and more.
  • Harmful intoxicants include paint fumes, aerosols, anesthesia and more.
  • Dangerous drugs include IV drugs, improperly used prescription drugs and more.

Ohio Penalties for Using a Weapon While Intoxicated

Since using or carrying a weapon while intoxicated is a first degree misdemeanor, the potential penalties include:

  • A jail term up to 180 days
  • A fine up to $1,000

Ohio Defenses Against Using a Weapon While Intoxicated

Getting charged for using a weapon while intoxicated can be alarming, especially if you weren’t using the weapon or didn’t remember it was on your person.

However, you don’t have to face the trial alone. Experienced defense attorneys can help navigate the case and trial. Some potential defenses when facing these charges include:


Defense of yourself or others is one defense against using or carrying a weapon while intoxicated. If your defense lawyer can prove you needed to carry the weapon out of self-defense or to defend another person, then your charges could be reduced or dropped.

Harm Reduction

Another defense is harm reduction. If you only had one drink or weren’t very intoxicated, and you had to take a weapon from a more intoxicated individual for the safety of you and others around you, then you could argue the action was necessary to reduce harm.

Mistaken Identity

At times, the police may detain, arrest and charge the wrong individuals. If you are able to prove law enforcement mistook you for someone else, then your charges could be dropped.

Involuntary Intoxication

You can also have charges reduced or dropped with proof that you were involuntarily intoxicated – for example, if you were drugged or otherwise forced to consume any substances against your will.


Similarly to involuntary intoxication, duress implies you were forced to hold or carry the weapon against your will. An example of a duress defense includes someone implying they would harm you or someone else if you did not carry or use the weapon.

Contact Hiltner Trial Lawyers for Help

There are several defenses to protect those accused of using a weapon while intoxicated. Max Hiltner, and his Akron, Ohio team at Hiltner Trial Lawyers, has years of experience helping people fight for their freedom and innocence. Contact us today to get started fighting for your rights.

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