Third Time DUI Penalties


What is the penalty for a third time dUI in Ohio?

The potential penalties for a third offense OVI in Ohio vary, depending on the amount of alcohol that was in your system, as measured by a blood, breath, or urine test. The penalties are quite severe. Although we talk about the minimum penalties below, you need to be aware that nearly all judges penalize third time DUI offenders with sentences that are more than the minimum.

OVI, or Operating a Vehicle under the Influence of alcohol and/or drugs, is also commonly referred to as drunk driving, DUI, DWI, or OMVI. The actual definition of OVI is found in Ohio Revised Code section 4511.19 (A)(1)(a) and the O.R.C. sections that follow. 

Most persons charged with OVI are also charged with operating with a prohibited concentration of alcohol or drugs in cases where the police officer obtained a chemical test result (breath test, blood test, or urine test).

Under Ohio law, OVI penalties are divided into high-tier and low-tier offenses. 

A low-tier OVI is when your breath alcohol content is below .17, or there is not a refusal. 

A high-tier OVI is when your breath alcohol content is at or above.17, or you decline the test chosen by a law enforcement officer. 

If you have refused the test requested by the officer and have two prior convictions within 20 years, it also is categorized as a high-tier OVI. It does not matter if both prior DUI offenses were treated as first offenses.

In Ohio, if you plead guilty (or no contest) to, or are convicted of a third offense OVI, you are facing mandatory jail, fines, a license suspension and more. 

A third offense low-tier OVI in Ohio for someone over the age of 21, without a CDL, is an Unclassified Misdemeanor and carries a jail sentence between 30 days and one year. The thirty days jail is mandatory and must be served straight through. A work release is not permitted.

The mandatory jail time on a third offense high-tier OVI is 60 days consecutive. 

A third offense high-tier OVI is also an Unclassified Misdemeanor, so the maximum jail time is one year.

Driving privileges on an OVI

State law forbids a judge from giving you driving privileges for ANY reason, even for work, until after a mandatory hard-time waiting period. This period is 180 days on a third-offense OVI. 

You can request the judge to put your suspension on hold by granting what is called a stay. This is rarely ever granted in third offense OVI cases. Most of the time, it results in the judge replacing it with a court suspension with a hard-time waiting period.

Restricted plates (yellow with red lettering), also called party plates or family plates, are mandatory on third offense OVIs if you ask for driving privileges. The restricted plates are required for the duration of your license suspension. On third offense OVI cases, judges are very likely to order probation, community work service, or SCRAM ankle monitors to prevent alcohol intake.

Third offense OVI charges carry a mandatory requirement for an ignition interlock device on your vehicle if you seek driving privileges, and the offense involves alcohol. If drugs are involved, the IID is discretionary with the judge. 

Regardless of whether you seek driving privileges, the judge is required by Ohio law to forfeit your vehicle if it was titled to you at the time of the offense. You will be found in contempt of court and fined the N.A.D.A. blue book value of the vehicle if you attempt to assign or transfer the title.

Other consequences of a Third DUI

On all third offense OVI cases, Ohio law requires completion of an alcohol and drug addiction program.

Additionally, any OVI conviction carries 6 points against your license. There will also be a $475 reinstatement fee owed to the BMV at the end of your license suspension.

Be aware that nearly all insurance companies will hike your insurance premiums up, sometimes for years. So you may need to shop around for a new insurance company. OVI convictions may also cause you problems such as keeping or finding employment.

An OVI charge is a criminal offense that remains on your record permanently.  You are prohibited by law from expunging an OVI or sealing the record of an OVI.

Why Yoou need an expert lawyer

By law, judges in Ohio cannot deviate below the mandatory requirements if you plead guilty or are convicted of an OVI charge. The only way to avoid these penalties is to flat out beat the charge or negotiate a reduction to a lesser offense.

OVI charges involve many intricate nuances. Because of this, you are presented with two primary obstacles. 

First, I can assure you from the thousands of OVI cases I have handled, that prosecutors have no incentive to plea bargain with anyone who lacks the wherewithal to prevail against them in the courtroom.

Secondly, even some lawyers lack this ability, and prosecutors can tell who they are. So, if you are planning on retaining an attorney, you will need one who handles these types of cases regularly.


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The website is designed for general information only. Any information on this site is not to be construed as formal legal advice from a criminal defense lawyer,DUI lawyer, a family law lawyer or estate planning, wills, trusts, and probate lawyer, nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Persons accessing this site are encouraged to seek personal advice regarding their individual legal issues.

The attorneys in our law firm primarily service Portage County courts (Ravenna and Kent) from our office in Ravenna, and Summit County courts (Akron, Stow, Barberton) from our office in Stow. Cases in all other courts in North East Ohio, such as Cuyahoga County courts, are handled under specific terms and conditions.