Ohio Drunk Driving Laws

When is a Driver Considered to be Legally Drunk in Ohio?

  • Non-commercial drivers age 21+ are considered legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .08 or more.
  • Drivers of commercial vehicles are legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .04 percent or greater. In Ohio, school bus drivers are commercial drivers.
  • Drivers under 21 are legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is
    .02 or more.

Penalties for Drunk Driving in Ohio

  • A person who commits a first DWI faces up to six months in jail and is subject to pay a fine of $375 to $1,075. The driver’s license suspension period is six months to three years.
  • A person who commits a second DWI within six years of the previous conviction faces up to six months in jail and is subject to pay a fine of $525 to $1,625. The driver’s license suspension period is one to five years.
  • A person who commits a third DWI within six years of the previous convictions faces up to one year in jail and is subject to pay a fine of $850 to $2,700. The driver’s license suspension period is two to 10 years.
  • A person who commits a fourth or subsequent DWI within six years of the previous convictions faces up to five years in prison and is subject to pay a fine of $1,350 to $10,500. The driver’s license suspension period is three years to life.

Limited Driving Privileges/Ignition Interlock

Depending on the circumstances of the DWI, an offender may be permitted to have limited driving privileges after serving a certain portion of the driver’s license suspension period for limited purposes, such as getting to and from work, school, a medical appointment, or court-ordered treatment. In most cases, the grant of limited driving privileges requires the offender to use an ignition interlock device.

Commercial Drivers

In addition to other penalties associated with Ohio’s DWI laws, a commercial driver who is convicted of DWI while operating any vehicle will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year. If, however, the offender was driving a commercial vehicle and transporting hazardous materials at the time, the disqualification period is three years. If a commercial driver is convicted of a second DWI while operating any vehicle, the offender will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for life, which may or may not be reduced to a period of at least 10 years.

Drivers Under 21

An underage driver who commits a first DWI while driving with a BAC of at least .02 but less than .08 is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. A misdemeanor of the fourth degree is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $250. The driver’s license suspension period is three months to two years.

An underage driver who commits a second DWI while driving with a BAC of at least .02 but less than .08 within one year of the first offense is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree. A misdemeanor of the third degree is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. The driver’s license suspension period is one to five years.

What is Ohio’s Dram Shop Act?

Under Ohio’s Dram Shop Act, a person who is injured as a result of the actions of an intoxicated person has a cause of action against the liquor permit holder or the employee of the permit holder who sold alcohol to the intoxicated person if the injury occurred on the permit holder’s property or in a parking lot under the permit holder’s control and if the injury was proximately caused by the negligence of the permit holder or the negligence of its employee. A person has a cause of action against the permit holder or its employee for personal injury caused by the negligent acts of an intoxicated person occurring off the premises or away from a parking lot under the permit holder’s control if the permit holder or its employee knowingly sold alcohol to a noticeably intoxicated person or to a person under 21 and the person’s intoxication proximately caused the injury.

Criminal Penalties for Selling or Providing Alcohol to a Person Under 21

In Ohio, it is a crime to sell or provide alcohol to a person under 21. This crime is punishable by up to sixty days in prison, a fine of $500 to $1,000, or both.

Penalties for Selling Alcohol to an Intoxicated Person

In Ohio, it is a minor offense for a licensed drinking establishment to sell alcohol to an intoxicated person. A violation of this law subjects the offender to a fine of up to $500 and 60 days in prison..

Need more information on state laws? Learn more about the laws where you live.

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