What Happens When You Get a 2nd DUI in Ohio

A 2nd DUI in Ohio is a serious offense and can involve jail time. Learn how you can fight your conviction here.
Written by Tiffany Leung
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
background
If you get a second-offense DUI in
Ohio
within ten years of a first offense, you could face penalties including a maximum of six months in jail and up to $1,625 in fines. You’ll also face license suspension for one to seven years. 
The Buckeye State takes driving under the influence very seriously—especially when it becomes a pattern of repeated dangerous behavior. A DUI conviction in Ohio carries heavy penalties, but repeat offenses within a 10-year “lookback period” result in some serious consequences that include jail time, court-ordered license suspensions, and a required ignition interlock device (IID). 
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What is a 2nd offense DUI in Ohio?

Ohio DUI laws
use the term “operating a vehicle under the influence” (OVI) instead of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). You can be charged with this offense depending on your age and BAC level: 
  • 21 or older—blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher
  • Under 21—BAC of 0.02% or higher
  • Commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder—BAC of 0.04% or higher
An OVI conviction will stay on your
Ohio driving record
permanently and cannot be sealed or expunged if you are 18 or older. However, there is a 10-year look-back period. If you are charged with an OVI within 10 years of a first offense, it will be considered a 2nd OVI in Ohio
If you are charged with a 2nd OVI in Ohio 10 or more years after your first offense, it will be legally considered a first offense—even if the first OVI remains on your record permanently. 
Key Takeaway You can be charged with a 2nd offense DUI in Ohio if you were convicted of a DUI within the last 10 years. 

What is the punishment for a 2nd DUI in Ohio?

There are two types of penalties associated with a 2nd OVI in Ohio: administrative penalties imposed by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), which are charged following any OVI arrest, and criminal penalties that are assigned by the court if you are convicted. 
Immediately following a 2nd OVI arrest, your driver’s license will be suspended by the BMV. In most cases, the suspension will last for one year if you fail a blood alcohol test. However, if you refuse the test, you will be subjected to a two-year suspension instead. 
If you’re convicted of a 2nd OVI in Ohio, you will also face criminal penalties, including: 
  • 10 days to 1 year in jail
  • $525 to $1,625 in fines (not including fees and penalty assessments)
  • License suspension of one to seven years
The severity of your punishment will depend on the ruling from the court issuing the conviction. You will have a greater chance of receiving the lower end of the penalties if your BAC was under 0.17%.
Under the court’s discretion, you could receive OVI sentencing alternatives, including participating in a “Community Control Sanction” program, house arrest, or electronic alcohol monitoring to reduce the penalties.
However, there are aggravating factors that will lead to higher fines and longer jail times for a 2nd Ohio OVI. These include: 
  • BAC of 0.17% or higher
  • Refusing to submit to BAC test
  • Driving under the influence with a minor passenger
  • Causing accident, injury, or death while under the influence
Key Takeaway The minimum penalties for a 2nd DUI in Ohio conviction include ten days of jail time, a $525 fine, and a one-year license suspension. 

How much does a 2nd DUI in Ohio cost in the long run?

Once you’ve been convicted of a 2nd OVI offense, you will have to bear the consequences. The most serious penalty may seem like the jail time you need to serve, but the fines, mandatory license suspension, and Community Control Sanction program also have a large impact. Additionally, having a DUI on your record will lead to increased insurance costs. 
These long-term consequences resulting from your 2nd offense DUI conviction could add up to over $10,000 in costs! 
Here’s a breakdown of the potential dollars you might need to spend.

Additional Fees

While the maximum fine for a 2nd DUI offense is $1,625, there will be additional costs of $2,000 or more. This includes court costs, license reinstatement fees, legal fees, and ignition interlock system installation (if required).
These fees add up quickly, especially when attorney fees alone can cost over $5,000

Alternative transportation

In Ohio, 2nd OVI offenders can apply for a limited license after 15 days (90 days if there was a test refusal), but approval isn’t guaranteed. If your application is denied, you must find alternate transportation to get around during the one- to seven-year license suspension.
While this may not be a major disruption if you can get driven or use public transit, the transportation fees can add up, especially if you live in a remote area. If you have limited transportation options, it could also cost you valuable work opportunities. 

Increased car insurance costs 

An ongoing consequence of having an OVI is a hike in your car insurance premium. With a 2nd OVI conviction, your insurance rates can increase by an average of 80%. Adding that to the state average cost of insurance—$2,438 per year—means you’ll be paying an extra $1,960 annually just to meet the minimum coverage requirements outlined in
Ohio's car insurance laws
Taking into account all fines, fees, IID costs, and increased insurance premiums, the total five-year cost of a 2nd OVI offense in Ohio is easily over $15,000

How to avoid jail time for a 2nd DUI in Ohio

If you’re facing a 2nd OVI conviction in Ohio, there are options to help lower your jail time and reduce the steep administrative penalties: 
  • Hire a defense attorney. Reducing jail time in a 2nd OVI conviction is difficult. Having a skilled attorney who is familiar with OVI cases will be essential to help you serve less jail time. 
  • Plead guilty to a “wet reckless” charge. Pleading to a lesser offense could lead to lesser penalties and can help you avoid jail time altogether.
If you are convicted of a 2nd offense OVI in Ohio, jail time is mandatory in most cases. However, a skilled defense attorney may be able to help you get the charges dropped by arguing that the arresting officer didn’t follow the correct procedures. 
Alternatively, drivers can make a “wet reckless” plea deal in place of the OVI charge. In Ohio, this refers to pleading guilty to reckless driving to lower the penalties you’ll face. Keep in mind that whether you can plead to wet reckless is up to the prosecution. The penalties of this conviction are limited to: 
  • Three days in jail or completion of a 72-hour driver intervention program
  • $375 to $1,075 in fines
  • Six months to three years license suspension
  • Ignition interlock device
As you can see, the penalties are far less severe, but they will vary depending on your criminal record. Although there is still a short jail sentence, a wet reckless conviction significantly reduces your long-term costs. 
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FAQs

No. A 2nd offense OVI in Ohio is considered a first-degree misdemeanor.
In general, there is a minimum of 10 days mandatory jail time for a 2nd offense OVI in Ohio. However, it is possible to reduce jail time by participating in a “Community Control Sanction” program, house arrest, and electronic alcohol monitoring.
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