What You Should Know about OVI Penalties for First-Time Offenders

​​Q: What are the financial sanctions for a first-time OVI conviction?
A: If you plead guilty or are convicted of a first OVI (operating a vehicle under the influence) offense, the judge may fine you a minimum of $375 and a maximum of $1,075. In addition, you will have to pay a driver’s license reinstatement fee of $475. Finally, if the judge sentences you to attend a Driver Intervention Program, there will be a cost associated with that program as well.

Q: Might I go to jail if I am convicted of a first OVI offense?
A: If you are convicted of being impaired or testing between a .08 and .17 BAC (blood or breath alcohol content), the judge may sentence you to three days in jail or three days in a Driver Intervention Program. A Driver Intervention Program is a 72-hour drug and/or alcohol treatment program that has been approved by the court.

If you are convicted of testing above a .17 BAC or refusing a breath test while having a prior OVI conviction in the past 20 years, the judge may sentence you to six days in jail or three days in jail and three days in a Driver Intervention Program.

Q: How will my driver’s license be affected if I am convicted of a first OVI offense?
A: A judge will issue a Class Five license suspension upon your conviction for a first-time OVI offense. A Class Five suspension can range anywhere from six months to three years. However, you will be eligible for occupational driving privileges 15 days from the date of your arrest. Occupational driving privileges may include travel to and from school if you are a student.

If you are convicted of having a BAC above .17, the judge may require you to install yellow license plates on your car or to have an interlock device installed in your vehicle before driving privileges will be granted. An “interlock” requires you to blow into a device on your steering wheel to ensure that you have not consumed alcohol before starting your vehicle.


This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was originally prepared by attorney Jon J. Saia, a partner in the Columbus law firm, Saia & Piatt, Inc., and updated by attorney Jessica G. D'Varga of the same firm. ​​

Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. This article is not intended to be legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from a licensed attorney.



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