If you’ve been arrested for an OVI/DUI in Ohio, the penalties can be severe.

So is there any difference between an OVI and a DUI.

The short answer is NO. In Ohio, DUIs are simply known as OVIs.

There are many different acronyms that can be used interchangeably with DUI. These include:

  • DUII – driving under the influence of intoxicants
  • DWI – driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired
  • DWAI – driving while ability impaired
  • DWUI – driving while under the influence
  • OWI – operating while intoxicated
  • OUI – operating under the influence
  • And of course OVI.

From the Ohio State Bar Association:

The acronyms DUI, DWI, OMVI and OVI all refer to the same thing: operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The most commonly used terms are DUI, an acronym for Driving Under the Influence, and DWI, an acronym for Driving While Impaired. However, Ohio law no longer uses the DUI and DWI acronyms because, in 1982, Ohio enacted a law that refers to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs as “OMVI,”  an acronym for Operating a Motor Vehicle Impaired.

Because a more recent change in Ohio law removed the requirement that a vehicle must be “motorized,” the current acronym that refers to driving under the influence is “OVI” (Operating a Vehicle Impaired). It is now a crime in Ohio to operate almost any vehicle while impaired. This includes not only motorized “vehicles,” but also, bicycles, horse-drawn carriages and several other types of “vehicles.”

So in Ohio, a DUI is known as an OVI. If you’re caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the state, you’ll be charged with an OVI.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI/OVI in Athens or anywhere in southern Ohio, we can help. Susan Gwinn is an aggressive, experienced, and affordable Athens DUI/OVI defense lawyer.

First Offense Penalties

First offense OVI penalties are determined by whether you have “low test” or “high test” results. OVI test results are considered “low test” if they fall below these levels:

  • Breath Test: .169
  • Urine Test: .237
  • Whole Blood: .169
  • Blood Serum or Plasma: .203

If your test falls below these levels, your OVI is considered a “low test”. If however, your results are above these limits, your OVI is a “high test”. Once your blood alcohol content hit a 0.08 percent, you will be charge with an OVI

“Low Test” Penalties

Even with low OVI test results, a penalty must be paid. There are a few mandatory penalties that come with an OVI:

  • A minimum fine of $375 and maximum of $1,075. If you are to pay the minimum, a judge has the ability to increase the fine.
  • License suspension for a minimum of one to a maximum of three years is mandatory for a first OVI conviction, but there are times a judge will allow limited driving to work or school. If you are granted unlimited driving privileges, an ignition interlock is required and the suspension may be cut down. The judge has the authority to suspend your license for up to three years.
  • Jail time. It is also mandatory that you spend a minimum of three days in jail or a maximum of six months, however, if you choose the option of unlimited driving privileges with the ignition interlock system, your jail time will be suspended. While it is rare that the maximum jail time is sentenced, it is still possible.

“High Test” Penalties

For “high test” OVI offenses, the penalties of the “low test” OVI’s are increased. The “high test” first offense also requires mandatory yellow plates. These yellow license plates, or restricted license plates. With these plates, an offender is granted limited driving privileges and must only drive a vehicle with the yellow plates on it. Obtaining that yellow plates is very complicated and time consuming, causing many people to think this is the worst penalty.

These yellow plates are meant to warn other drivers and law enforcement about the drivers OVI history and must be used until the period of limited driving privileges is over.

If you have been charged with an OVI, you will want to get the minimum amount of penalties. If you have “low test” results, you may be able to get the minimum penalties on your own, but even then a judge can increase your fines. Don’t risk excessive fines, jail time, or the loss of your license, contact us today for a free consultation. We will protect your rights.