What is the Difference Between OVI and DUI in Ohio?

Recent Posts



Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Operating a Vehicle while Impaired (OVI) are serious criminal charges in Ohio. While OVI is the “official” term in Ohio, both terms are used interchangeably and concern driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, or with a prohibited level of either.  For alcohol, OVI is driving while impaired or with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more.

Before we go further, let’s go over all the acronyms related to driving intoxicated, impaired, or under the influence. The acronym will vary by state, but they all refer to the same offense.

  • DUII – driving under the influence of intoxicants
  • DWAI – driving while ability impaired
  • DWI – driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired
  • DWUI – driving while under the influence
  • OVI – operating while impaired (Ohio)
  • OWI – operating while intoxicated
  • OUI – operating under the influence

OVI and DUI Offense Defined

An OVI and a DUI are the same offense: operating a vehicle while impaired or under the influence. Ohio defines OVIs as:

  • Driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or beyond or a urine alcohol concentration of 0.1% or higher.
  • Driving with a particular specification of certain kinds of controlled substances in the body.
  • Driving while impaired by alcohol or any controlled substance, regardless of amount.

What happens if you are charged with an OVI?

An OVI can be charged when an individual fails to operate their vehicle responsibly, including but not limited to drinking alcohol or taking drugs before getting behind the wheel of the vehicle. Keep in mind that the vehicle operated while impaired does not have to be a motorized vehicle. For example, an impaired driver of a bicycle or horse drawn carriage can be charged with an OVI.

In order to be charged with an OVI for level of alcohol, a person must have a BAC of 0.08 or higher. This is dropped to 0.04 for commercial drivers and 0.02 for drivers under the age of 21. It is important to note that Ohio has implied consent. If a driver refuses to submit to a chemical test, such as a breathalyzer, they will receive a mandatory fine, and the State of Ohio will suspend their license.

To be convicted of an OVI, the prosecutor must prove that the person being charged was impaired by any amount of alcohol in their system or that they were impaired by drugs. In certain instances, an OVI charge can be reduced if the driver has no prior drunk driving record, their BAC is borderline illegal, and no accident occurred.

You face penalties like jail time, fines, license suspension, and other offenses when you are charged with an OVI. The OVI charge means the officer investigated to determine whether the driver exhibited any erratic behavior due to alcohol or drug use. This usually involves a chemical test of some kind. As we had mentioned earlier, Ohio has implied consent. If a driver refuses to submit to a chemical test, they will receive a mandatory fine, and the state suspends their license.

You can be convicted of an OVI if the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you operated a vehicle while impaired.

What are the Penalties for an OVI or DUI?

If you’re caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Ohio, you’ll be charged with an OVI. The penalties if you are convicted of OVI depend on many factors, such as your level of intoxication and whether this is your first OVI offense. First-time OVI-specific penalties include:

  • Jail Time: 3 days – 6 months
  • Fine: $375 – $1,075
  • License Suspension: 6 months – 3 years
  • License Reinstatement Fee: $475

Additional Penalties for OVI and DUI:

  • Increased insurance rates
  • Limit job prospects and educational opportunities
  • Permanently appear on your driving record
  • Prevent certain professional licenses

How Long Will This Conviction Stay on My Record?

OVI convictions will go on your Ohio driving record and cannot be sealed or expunged. These charges are essentially on your record permanently. Additionally, in 2017, Ohio extended its look-back period from 6 to 10 years. This means that if you are charged with OVI, an OVI conviction within the last 10 years will be considered a prior offense. If a repeat OVI offense occurs within 10 years of the previous offense, the consequences will be more severe.

This is why it’s so critically important to call us sooner rather than later. These charges can have a potential impact on the rest of your life because they hang over your head for years to come. When it comes to your future, you need an ally, someone who can fight for you. That’s where the experienced attorneys at Bangerter Law Firm come into play; we do not shy away from any case. We will meticulously examine the facts, and we will work together to build a strategy that works best for you and your case.

Not Sure What To Do Next?

Call our experienced team of Ohio OVI and DUI defense attorneys today to discuss your legal options. Together we can build your defense strategy.

Contact The Bangerter Law Office in Willoughby, Ohio

As a former prosecutor, your Ohio criminal defense attorney, Matthew C. Bangerter, at The Bangerter Law Office brings extensive experience in OVI and DUI defense and knowledge of the strategies employed by the prosecution team. What does this mean for you and your OVI or DUI case? You can work directly with your lawyer to develop a comprehensive criminal defense strategy with your best interests in mind. If you’re dealing with an OVI or DUI, don’t wait to get help. Contact The Bangerter Law Office here or call (440) 340-1740 to schedule a consultation.


Copyright© 2021. The Bangerter Law Office. All rights reserved.  


The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

The Bangerter Law Office
4124 Erie St
Willoughby, OH 44094
(440) 340-1740