In most states, when a police officer pulls someone over for drunk driving, the individual faces driving under the influence (DUI) charges. Ohio absolutely prosecutes people for driving after drinking, but they don’t call those charges a DUI. Ohio drivers are at risk of operating a vehicle impaired (OVI) charges.
Most OVI charges that don’t involve injuries to other people will be misdemeanor offenses. Someone stopped by the police due to suspicion of impairment will usually only face misdemeanor charges if they do get arrested.
However, Ohio does increase the penalties that someone faces if the state charges them with a felony OVI instead of a misdemeanor. After multiple charges within 10 or 20 years, depending on the blood alcohol concentration of the driver involved, a driver could face a felony OVI charge. What are the possible penalties?
Felony OVI means possible incarceration and license loss
If you plead guilty to a felony OVI or if the courts convict you, you will face multiple penalties. Many people worry primarily about incarceration. A felony OVI will carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 60 days in jail. The defendant could have to serve up to 30 months.
The judge could also order someone convicted of a felony OVI to attend mandatory drug and alcohol education. Drivers can also expect to pay a fine of up to $10,500. A felony OVI will also have implications for someone’s driving privileges. Typically, a felony OVI will cost someone their license for three years. The state could seize their vehicle, and they may have to install an ignition interlock device when they do get their license back.
Potential felony penalties make OVI defense worthwhile
Some people think that a first OVI charge will lead to just a slap on the wrist or minor frustration. They don’t consider the risk of subsequent charges and how the penalties will go up every time.
The possible penalties are why defending against an OVI charge, even a first OVI charge, is often a good decision. Drivers can avoid a record that would put them at risk of a felony charge. Those who already have previous charges may be able to avoid a conviction with a felony offense. Learning about the risks of OVI charges can help people make better decisions about how they handle their criminal defense.