If you are pulled over while driving and the police officer conducting the stop suspects you are intoxicated, they will perform field sobriety tests and blood alcohol testing. If you are over the legal level, you will be charged with a DUI.
Is a DUI a criminal offense? Yes, but the penalties you face will depend on the factors of your case.
If you have been arrested for DUI for the first time, then you will most likely be facing first-degree misdemeanor charges. This is still a criminal offense, and although a felony is more serious, you should not ignore it.
DUI convictions, even for those who have never been in trouble with the law before, can result in mandatory jail time, driver’s license suspension, and large fines. The charge will also impact how much you pay for car insurance and could mean that your insurer drops you from their coverage. You could also experience trouble finding employment due to having a criminal record.
Ohio law considers someone guilty of DUI if they operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If your blood alcohol level (BAC) is 0.08% or higher, you are breaking the law. However, the police may still charge you with this criminal offense even if your level is lower than the limit if they believe you are too impaired to drive.
For a first DUI offense, you’ll endure the consequences outlined above. If you are arrested for DUI a second time within 10 years of the first offense, it is still considered a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalties include a mandatory 10-day jail sentence or 20 days if your BAC test is high or there is a prior refusal to take a test within 20 years. You will also pay fines up to $1,625, lose your driver’s license for 1 to 7 years, require a mandatory ignition interlock device, and serve probation.
There are certain circumstances when a DUI charge in Ohio is listed as a felony offense. If you are convicted of four DUI offenses within 10 years or six DUI charges within 20 years, you will be facing felony charges. After being convicted of a felony DUI charge, you should know that if you are arrested for DUI again, it will automatically be a felony.
You may have been arrested for DUI in Ohio, but that doesn’t automatically mean you are guilty. The prosecution must prove you were operating the vehicle while intoxicated. There may be evidence that clears you of these charges or helps to get them reduced.
Popular defense strategies include arguing that the traffic stop was unlawful or that the field sobriety tests were too subjective. There are ways to fight the charges against you, though it is smart to consult a defense attorney to help you through the legal process.