What Is the BAC Limit in Ohio?

bac limit in ohio

You’ve had a couple of drinks. You get behind the wheel. 

You’re headed home when you look up, and your heart drops. 

Red and blue lights are flashing in your rearview mirror, and you can’t seem to remember whether it was one or two drinks you had tonight.

Indeed, it wasn’t enough to be a problem, right?

Unfortunately, the Ohio legal system doesn’t care about your tolerance level. And if your blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) exceeds 0.08%, you might have bought yourself a first-class ticket to jail.

Drinking and driving are never worth the risk, but if you find yourself in a tough spot, our team at The Botnick Law Firm is here to help. 

Here’s how Ohio laws affect you.

Ohio Drunk Driving Laws

BAC Limits in Ohio

Per Se BAC Limit 0.08%
Aggravated BAC Limit 0.17%
Commercial Drivers BAC Limit 0.04%
Underage (<21) BAC Limit 0.02%

Ohio DUI/OVI Laws

If you’re arrested for driving under the influence, and your breathalyzer test reveals that your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or higher, you are guilty of an OVI offense

The officer doesn’t have to prove that you were impaired, only that you were intoxicated at or above the legal limit.

Aggravated DUI/OVI

Suppose your blood alcohol concentration exceeds 0.17%. In that case, your charges will be bumped up to an aggravated OVI, which comes with additional penalties, including a prolonged driver’s license suspension and more time in jail.

Drivers Under 21

Ohio is a zero-tolerance state, meaning it doesn’t take underage drinking lightly. If a minor is pulled over with a BAC of 0.02% or higher (equivalent to one drink), they can be charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor. 

This charge comes with a jail sentence of up to 60 days and $500 in fines, depending on whether it’s the first or second offense.

Commercial Drivers

CDL drivers are subject to more stringent BAC limit laws than other drivers. A commercial driver operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04% or higher can incur a license suspension and other penalties. 

Penalties for Driving Drunk in Ohio

Penalties for OVI (DUI) in Ohio

1st Offense
  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Up to $1,075 in fines
  • License suspension up to 3 years
2nd Offense
  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Up to $1,625 in fines
  • License suspension up to 7 years
3rd Offense
  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $2,750 in fines
  • License suspension up to 12 years

Actual Physical Control Charges

You may also be subject to penalties even if you weren’t operating the vehicle at the time. 

 Say, for instance—you were sitting in the driver’s seat of your car, keys in hand, in the parking lot. You can be charged with “actual physical control” of the vehicle, which comes with penalties of up to 180 days in jail and fines up to $1,000.

How Is BAC Measured in Ohio?

There are several ways to test your blood alcohol level. The most common are breathalyzers and blood and urine tests. 

Here’s how police may test your BAC in Ohio:

  • Breathalyzer—Also called breath tests, these are devices that use chemical reactions to test your blood alcohol concentration
  • Blood test (chemical test)—Your blood is drawn and sent to a lab for testing
  • Urine test—A sample of your urine is taken and tested at the police station or hospital 

When you’re charged with an OVI, the prosecution must show that your BAC is over the legal limit and that you were operating a motor vehicle. BAC testing results are one of the most significant sources of evidence they can have against you.

Ohio Implied Consent Laws

As a motorist in Ohio, you are subject to implied consent laws. This means that once you get behind the wheel, you are pre-consenting to having your BAC limits tested if pulled over. Refusing a test comes with automatic penalties and could result in you losing your license for a year or longer.

DUI Help in Ohio

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, you have options to reduce the impact this charge has on your life.

Community Control Sanctions

The judge may reduce or eliminate your jail time by ordering you to participate in a Community Control sanction. Instead of jail time, this may include participating in a driver intervention program or house arrest with alcohol electronic monitoring. 

Limited License

You could petition the court for a limited license if your license were suspended. If granted, you must still comply with a minimum suspension period of 15 days for a first offense, 45 days for a second offense, and 180 days for a third offense. 

Once your minimum suspension is up, there will still be restrictions on when you can operate your vehicle, including the installation of an ignition interlock device.

Hire an Ohio DUI Attorney

Although the best option for avoiding DUI penalties is to not get behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking, but when you find yourself facing an OVI/DUI charge, you need an Ohio DUI attorney who won’t drop the ball.

At The Botnick Law Firm, we’ve got you covered. We’ll do everything we can to protect your rights and keep you out of jail. 

Call now for your free consultation.

Author Bio

Botnick Law Firm

Robert Botnick is CEO and Managing Partner of Botnick Law Firm, a criminal defense law firm in Cleveland, OH. With more than 19 years of experience in criminal defense, he has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including DUIs, misdemeanors, felonies, domestic violence, and other criminal charges.

Robert received his Juris Doctor from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University and is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including the Best DUI Lawyers in Cleveland award by

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