Commonly known in the U.S. as driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI), here in Ohio, the crime of drinking and driving is officially called operating a vehicle under the influence, or OVI.
Besides the different names, the state’s criminal code treats OVI similarly to how most other states identify and punish driving under the influence. That includes having two tiers of OVI: standard OVI and aggravated OVI.
What’s the difference?
Standard, or “per se” OVI happens when someone drives with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent. If you have a BAC of .08 percent or above, the law assumes you are too impaired to drive safely. If the police measure your BAC at .17 percent or above, they will charge you with enhanced penalty (aggravated) OVI, a more serious crime with a heavier possible sentence.
The penalties for standard OVI
Let’s say you have no prior record of OVI convictions. For a first conviction for standard OVI, you will receive three days in jail, though you can choose to pay to attend a three-day driver intervention program instead. The judge will suspend your driver’s license for at least a year. However, you can ask for limited reinstatement of your license so you can commute to work and/or school. There will also be a fine of at least $375.
Tougher punishments for aggravated OVI
Ohio gives judges the power to impose the same types of punishments for aggravated OVI, but the sentences are more severe. Instead of a mandatory three days in jail, you can be sentenced to six. You can participate in the driver intervention program to take three days off the sentence, and if the judge lets you keep your license in exchange for using an ignition interlock device, your jail sentence might be suspended.
However, you will be banned from driving for at least 15 days, and your license could be suspended for up to three years. As we said above, the judge has the discretion to restore full driving privileges if you pay to have an ignition interlock device put into your vehicle. Or they could grant you limited driving privileges in exchange for putting special yellow and red license plates on your car. In addition, the judge can fine you up to $1,075.
Remember, these punishments are just for a first offense. This is why you should never take an OVI charge lightly.