Drinking and driving is a serious crime that often has tragic consequences for victims and their families. To reduce the number of drunk drivers on the roads, many states have strict laws in place. Ohio is one state that has mandatory and nonmandatory penalties for DUI offenders. As serious of a crime that drinking and driving while under influence is, many people find themselves with DUI charges. Drunk driving charges often have a lingering impact that creates more economic and financial challenges than many people think. 

Anyone dealing with a DUI charge or who could potentially end up with one from drinking and driving should familiarize her or himself with the following information on DUI penalties

Level of offenses and penalties 

The criminal justice system prosecutes DUI offenders using a DUI tier system. First-time offenders face a minimum jail sentence of 72 hours, a driver’s license suspension period of six months and fines. Some individuals may have to complete an alcohol education course. Second offenses carry a driver’s license suspension length of one year, up to 10 days in jail and significant fines. Third-time offenders face a 30-day jail sentence and a two-year suspension period for driving privileges. 

Repeat offenders who have four or more DUI charges risk a prison sentence of 20 years. Conviction is no longer at the misdemeanor level. A conviction for a fourth or subsequent DUI charge is a felony and carries stricter penalties, including steep fines, all future convictions automatically becoming felony charges, losing the right to own a vehicle and the loss of legal driving privileges for three years.  

Long-term financial impact 

Even at the first-offense, offenders may receive a sentence that requires the use of an interlock ignition device on their vehicles. There are fines, restitution and other costs, including having to maintain special auto insurance (SR-22). Upon conviction, individuals often experience challenges in housing, employment and finances. They also end up with a permanent criminal history. 

There exist many factors besides BAC results and field sobriety testing that can affect the outcome of a DUI case. Defense options are contingent on individual circumstances, evidence and legal counsel.