Skip to main content
DUI Defense

Will I go to jail for my first DUI in Ohio?

By August 18, 2021No Comments

In the ten-year period between 2003 and 2012, over 3,000 people died in car accidents involving drunk drivers in Ohio.

While the numbers have been trending down in the years since, the state still tends to take drunk driving very seriously. That’s why a conviction for OVI, or operating a vehicle under the influence, can result in some serious legal penalties.

At Hiltner Trial Lawyers, a question we frequently get from people charged with their first OVI is, “Will I go to jail if it’s only my first time?”

While it’s possible to get jail time for a first offense OVI, it’s less likely if you have an experienced OVI defense attorney on your side. Read on for more details about the consequences of an OVI charge in Ohio, and how to best protect yourself.

Consequences for a first-offense OVI

In the state of Ohio, the legal consequences of an OVI conviction depend on a number of different factors, including how many offenses you have on your record, and your level of intoxication.

If you’re convicted of driving with a BAC (blood alcohol content) level above .08%, you could be facing any of the following:

  • Maximum 6 months in jail
  • Minimum 3 days in jail or 3-day Drivers Intervention Program
  • Maximum 5 years of probation
  • Fine between $375-$1,075 
  • License suspension (1-3 years)

In addition, if your BAC is above .17%, you could be facing double the minimum jail time (6 days).

For more information about potential consequences, check out this Ohio OVI sentencing chart.

Consequences for second and third offenses

The consequences for OVIs increase the more convictions you have on your record.

A second-offense OVI carries the following potential penalties:

  • Maximum 6 months in jail
  • Minimum 10 days in jail or 5 days in jail and 18 days of house arrest with electronic monitoring 
  • Maximum 5 years of probation
  • Fine between $525-$1,625 
  • Suspended license (1-7 years)
  • Mandatory alcohol/drug assessment and recommended treatment
  • “Party Plates” if the offense is alcohol related

And a third-offense OVI could mean even higher penalties:

  • Maximum 1 year in jail
  • Minimum 30 days in jail or 15 days in jail and 55 days of house arrest with electronic monitoring 
  • Maximum 5 years of probation
  • Fine between $850-$2,750
  • Suspended license (2-10 years)
  • Mandatory alcohol/drug assessment and recommended treatment

A fourth offense or greater is classified as a felony, and could potentially mean up to 30 months in jail.

OVI defense in Ohio

Theoretically, if you’re pulled over for drunk driving for the first time ever, and you’re really intoxicated, you could get up to a year in jail. However, if you have an experienced OVI defense attorney on your team, this outcome is unlikely.

In many cases, police officers administer sobriety tests improperly, and incorrectly identify people as intoxicated. In one case that Hiltner Trial Lawyers worked on, a woman’s disorientation after an accident was mistaken for intoxication.

Other times, police officers will arrest drivers on a hunch, without ever having administered a sobriety test.

We can use footage of an accident, records indicating that a test was administered improperly, or a good driving record to help prove that our client was not intoxicated. Sometimes just the threat of going to trial can be enough to get the charges dropped.

In other cases, it’s undeniable that our client was driving while under the influence. In these cases, the law provides many opportunities to get charges or sentencing reduced. With a fierce advocate like Hiltner Trial Lawyers, there’s no reason you should be facing jail time for a first-offense OVI.

Contact an OVI defense attorney in Ohio

If you’ve been pulled over for an OVI, the most important thing you can do to protect your future is to get in contact with an experienced OVI attorney as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and talk about your case.