What is the Difference Between OVI and DUI in Ohio?

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Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI) are serious criminal charges in Ohio. DUI is when you drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. OVI is driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) between .08% and .17%.

Before we go further, let’s review all the acronyms related to driving intoxicated, impaired, or under the influence.

  • 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
  • OWI – operating while intoxicated
  • OUI – operating under the influence

OVI Offense Defined

In Ohio, an OVI stands for operating a vehicle 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 under the influence of any two or more controlled substances or alcohol items.

DUI Offense Defined

In Ohio, a DUI stands for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Ohio defines DUIs as:

  • Driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher.
  • Exhibiting physical control of a vehicle while under the influence and/or with a BAC at or over .04%.

What happens if you are charged with an OVI?

An OVI can be charged when an individual fails to operate their motor vehicle responsibly, including but not limited to drinking alcohol or taking drugs before getting behind the wheel of the car.

To be charged with an OVI, 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, they will receive a mandatory fine, and their license is suspended.

To be convicted of an OVI, the police officer must prove that the person being charged had any amount of alcohol in their system or that drugs or some other drug impairment impaired them. 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.

What happens if you are charged with a DUI?

A DUI is an action that happens during the operation of a vehicle. You face penalties like jail time, fines, license suspension, and other DUI-related offenses when charged with DUI. The DUI charge means the officer investigated whether the driver exhibited any erratic behavior due to alcohol use. It usually involves a DUI 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 their license is suspended.

You can be convicted of DUI 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?

DUI is known as an OVI. 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. 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. If you are charged with OVI, an OVI conviction within the last ten years will be considered a prior offense.

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) 409-7898 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) 409-7898

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