Facing DUI charges in Cleveland?

What Is A DUI? Were You Charged With DUI or OVI? You Need To Act FAST.

What is a DUI and, if I am convicted, what does that mean for my future? This is what may be running through your mind if you have just been charged with DUI in Ohio. It’s important to remember that you still have options. The Ohio OVI and DUI laws are known to be strict, but they are not completely impossible to navigate with the right help. Do not give up on yourself or on your future. It is crucial to make sure you have a full understanding of your situation and your OVI or DUI charges in order to determine your best path forward.



According to Ohio law, it is illegal for anyone to operate a vehicle while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In Ohio, you might see several different acronyms for this offense including DUI, DWI, OMVI, and OVI. The most commonly used term is OVI which stands for Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence.

Proving that someone is under the influence is most often accomplished by a blood or breath test. These are used to determine the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of the driver. Ohio has a strict limit of .08 percent and if someone is operating a vehicle over this limit it is grounds for an OVI arrest. In Ohio, there is also an enhanced penalty if the driver is found to have a BAC of .17 percent or higher.

Ohio also has what is known as a per se law. This means that even if you were operating your vehicle perfectly, and not showing any signs of intoxication or impairment, you can still be charged with OVI per se if your BAC is above .08 percent. The penalties are usually the same for OVI and OVI per se, but the penalties will depend on other factors involved, such as any previous OVI convictions and whether there was someone who was seriously injured or killed.

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What are the penalties for OVI or DUI in Ohio?

First OVI or DUI

In Ohio, a first-time OVI or DUI is usually a misdemeanor charge. The possible penalties for a first time OVI (for a failed test or refused test) include:

  • Fines: $375 to $1,075
  • License suspension: 1 to 3 years
  • Restricted plates: Possible DUI “Party Plates”
  • Interlock: Possible interlock requirement
  • Jail time: 3 to 180 days


Second OVI or DUI

In Ohio, a second offense OVI or DUI (within a 10-year period) is also usually a misdemeanor charge. The possible penalties for a second OVI (for a failed test or refused test) include:

  • Fines: $525 to $1,625
  • License suspension: 1 to 7 years
  • Restricted plates: Possible DUI “Party Plates”
  • Interlock: Mandatory interlock requirement
  • Jail time: 10 to 180 days


Third OVI or DUI

In Ohio, a third offense OVI or DUI (within a 10-year period) is also usually a misdemeanor charge. The possible penalties for a third OVI (for a failed test or refused test) include:

  • Fines: $850 to $2,750
  • License suspension: 2 to 12 years
  • Restricted plates: Mandatory DUI “Party Plates”
  • Interlock: Mandatory interlock requirement
  • Jail time: 30 days to one year


Fourth and Subsequent OVI or DUI

In Ohio, a fourth (or subsequent) OVI or DUI within ten years is generally a felony. The possible penalties for a fourth or subsequent OVI (for a failed test or refused test) include:

  • Fines: $1,350 to $10,500
  • License suspension: 3 years to lifetime
  • Restricted plates: Mandatory DUI “Party Plates”
  • Interlock: Mandatory interlock requirement
  • Jail time: 60 days to 36 months

Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Should I hire a Cleveland, Ohio DUI lawyer?

You should contact a Cleveland DUI lawyer as soon as possible if you have been arrested or charged with OVI or DUI. You will want to make sure you have an experienced OVI and DUI lawyer in your corner to ensure you have the best possible chance at a favorable outcome.

We understand that mistakes happen and that DUI/OVI cases affect people from all walks of life. An OVI case is not something you can truly prepare for, but it is something we can help with when it happens to you or a loved one.

Cleveland, Ohio DUI and OVI Attorney Near You

What is a DUI? If you are unsure and need help navigating the complicated Ohio OVI and DUI laws, contact The Botnick Law Firm today for a free case evaluation. You may be able to keep your license. Call us now to get the help you deserve. An experienced Cleveland OVI and DUI lawyer can help get you through this. Contact us today for a FREE consultation.


Process step-by-step

  • 01.
    Initial Arrest

    01. Initial Arrest

    The process to charge someone that’s been accused of a crime begins with an arrest. If the police have reason to believe that someone has committed a crime, the accused can be taken into custody. Police will usually start by asking basic questions like name and address to identify a person, and then they’ll often pivot to more specific questions related to the incident. At some point during this, you should have been read your “Miranda warnings.”

  • 02.
    Reading Your Rights

    02. Reading Your Rights

    You have the right to remain silent to avoid disclosing evidence that could potentially be self-incriminating, as well as the right to an attorney to defend you in court. Those are your unwavering rights that must be recited upon taking someone into custody. Take note of when these rights are read to you, as it could be helpful information for your attorney.

  • 03.

    03. Booking

    When you’ve been taken down to the station, police will fingerprint you and get your photograph to update their records. Once this is done, you should be granted the opportunity to contact your criminal defense lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer, get a loved one to book a consultation with a lawyer on your behalf. It’s important that you do NOT disclose any details about your case over the phone with your loved ones, as those calls are monitored.

  • 04.

    04. Investigation

    After you’ve made it through the booking process, the police may begin conducting their investigation with you. Depending on the situation, this might include a personal search, collecting samples, interviewing/interrogating, police lineups, etc.

  • 05.
    Court Appearance

    05. Court Appearance

    You’ll be held at the station until you can be brought before a judge. The initial court appearance will happen within 48 hours or less of the arrest. Here, the judge will review the case and decide if there’s any reason to keep you in holding or if bail can be granted. If bail is granted, you’re allowed to be released upon certain conditions.

  • 06.

    06. Hearing

    Depending on the seriousness of your allegations, you may have a preliminary hearing at which a judge can determine whether enough evidence exists to charge you with that level of crime. You’ll be able to plead “guilty” or “not guilty.” If you plead not guilty, your case will be sent to trial. You may get the opportunity to enter a plea deal. That’s something your attorney will advise you on.

  • 07.

    07. Discovery

    In the discovery stage, the case against you is made much more transparent. The prosecutor will share the evidence they have against you with your defense attorney. During this time, your attorney can make additional requests for evidence if need be. All of the evidence on the table will be considered, and your lawyer will work with you to form the best plan for your defense.

  • 08.

    08. Trial

    If a plea deal is unable to be reached, the case will enter trial. During the trial, the prosecutor begins by presenting the case to the jury. They share any evidence they have against you and have witnesses make their statements for the prosecution. This can be tough to sit through. Afterward, it’s your lawyer’s turn to take the stands and share your side of the story. Your lawyer can question the prosecutor’s witnesses and all of the evidence that was used against you. There are many different strategies that your lawyer will use to defend you during the trial.

  • 09.

    09. Sentencing

    In a best-case scenario, you will have been found not guilty by the end of the trial, and the charges against you have been dropped. If you are found guilty, the judge must determine what your sentence/penalties will be. The sentencing will happen at another hearing, usually a few weeks after your trial ends.

Ohio Felony Sentencing

Prison TIme
Maximum Fine
First Degree
3-11 years
Second Degree
2-8 years
Third Degree
9-36 or 12-60 months
Fourth Degree
6-8 months
Fifth Degree
6-12 months

Ohio Misdemeanor Sentencing

Jail Time
Maximum Fine
First Degree
Up to 180 days
Second Degree
Up to 90 days
Third Degree
Up to 60 days
Fourth Degree
Up to 30 days
Minor Misdemeanor

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between an OVI and a DUI in Ohio?

DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence, and OVI stands for Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence. In Ohio, the terms DUI and DWAI are no longer used, instead, the term OVI is used to describe this illegal activity.

Is an OVI or DUI a felony?

An OVI or DUI in Ohio can either be a misdemeanor or a felony. In order for an OVI to be a felony, it will need to be a person’s fourth or subsequent OVI or DUI in ten years or sixth or subsequent OVI or DUI in twenty years.

Should I get a lawyer for an OVI or DUI?

If you have been arrested for OVI or DUI, you should always speak with an experienced attorney. An OVI attorney will be able to review the details of your case and help you determine the best course of action for your particular situation.

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