The majority of people who are arrested for a first-time DUI have never been in legal trouble in their lives. Some people may drink a little more than they planned while others may have been completely sober with a medical condition that has similar symptoms to intoxication.
Regardless, a first-offense DUI in Ohio is still a criminal charge that you should take seriously.
What Is a First DUI Offense in Ohio?
A first DUI or OVI is usually a first-degree misdemeanor. You may face this charge if you are accused of operating any type of vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher to be considered over the legal limit.
It is crucial that you understand that Ohio broadly defines vehicles as cars, trucks, bicycles, ATVs, golf carts, and other modes of transport. You should also know that even if your test produces results that are under 0.08%, you may still face charges if the officer thinks you are intoxicated.
A first-time DUI offense can cause problems for your future. This is incredibly upsetting if you’ve never been in trouble with the law. You may have to serve several months on probation, complete community service requirements, lose your driver’s license, or have to use an ignition interlock device.
You’ll also suffer other consequences beyond criminal penalties after a conviction. Your auto insurance carrier will likely add a significant increase to your premiums. They might even drop your coverage as you pose a greater risk. Your career could also be ruined by a first-time DUI conviction as it can affect your professional license. You might also face social stigma from friends, family, and colleagues for your DUI charges.
Even though your first-time DUI will be charged as a misdemeanor, the prosecution might want to pursue statutory penalties and punishments. You will want to speak with a defense attorney immediately to help protect your rights.
What Are the Penalties for a First-Time DUI in Ohio?
While a misdemeanor is less serious than a felony, your DUI charges are still no laughing matter. If you are convicted of a DUI even for the first time, you will receive a fine that could be anywhere from $375 to $1,075. Your license will be suspended and you’ll need to pay $475 to get it reinstated.
If you submit to a chemical test and your results reveal you had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% to 0.17%, then you may be sentenced to serve 3 days in jail or participate in a court-approved driver intervention program. You will likely be relieved if you are sent to the program instead, though you should know that you will have to pay all expenses associated with it.
If your BAC levels are above 0.17%, then the judge can sentence you to 6 days in jail. For a first offense, the judge could split the 6 days so you serve 3 days in jail and 3 days in a driver intervention program.
Anyone convicted of DUI charges, even if it is their first time, is subject to an administrative license suspension. The judge will also add a Class Five license suspension, which could last anywhere from 6 months to 3 years. It is possible to apply for occupational driving privileges but you must be prepared to prove the reason in your hearing.
If you are convicted of DUI with a BAC over 0.17%, the court may also mandate that you install an ignition interlock device at your expense. You may also be required to use a yellow license plate from the state before you are permitted to drive again. Additional requirements may be imposed, such as court-ordered treatment, taking a driver’s license exam, or even completing a remedial driving course.
What Can You Do If You’re Facing First-Time DUI Charges in Ohio?
Getting arrested is a scary experience, especially when you have never been in trouble before. The most important thing you can do is contact a criminal defense attorney with experience in DUI cases.
There may be evidence that proves you were not intoxicated at the time or that the field sobriety tests were incorrectly administered. This could result in the charges being reduced or completely dropped. Ultimately, when you have a strong legal defense, it can help you protect your rights and mitigate any negative consequences for your future.