In many parts of the United States, the crime or offense of drunk driving is referred to as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). In the state of Ohio, however, the term used by law enforcement is operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI). This charge refers to driving while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both.

Under federal law, it is illegal in Ohio for people of any age to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.8% or over. For most people, this can occur after drinking three (for men) or four (for women) drinks within an hour. Depending on factors such as tolerance, however, this can vary for each person.

Exceptions for BAC limits in Ohio include:

  • Underage drinkers (under 21): 0.2% BAC
  • Commercial drivers: 0.4% BAC

Drunk driving is a serious problem that can be dangerous not only for the driver but also for any other passengers in the car and others on the road. Driving while drunk can also be a sign of alcohol abuse or addiction, as this can make people more likely to engage in risky behaviors.

Driving while under the influence poses a risk for injury, fatal car crashes, and legal consequences. If you’re abusing alcohol and engage in behaviors such as drunk driving, treatment within an alcohol rehab program may be recommended.

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Drunk Driving Statistics In Ohio

Drunk driving in Ohio is typically documented through OVI charges and arrests by law enforcement. Compared to the national average reported by the CDC, people in Ohio are slightly more likely than drivers in other states to report drinking and driving.

Information and statistics about drunk driving in Ohio:

  • there were a total of 26,614 OVI arrests in the state of Ohio in 2018, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP)
  • about 2.2 percent of adults in Ohio admit to driving after drinking too much (in the last 30 days)
  • rates of death among people involved in alcohol-related car crashes are highest among 21 to 34-year olds
  • between 2003 and 2012, 3,367 people in Ohio died due to motor vehicle crashes involving a drunk driver

National statistics on drunk driving:

  • about 29 people in the U.S. die each day in drunk driving crashes
  • in 2017, 220 children under the age of 14 were killed in vehicle crashes involving a drunk driver
  • male drivers are almost twice as likely as female drivers to drink and drive
  • drugs other than alcohol are involved in 16 percent of vehicle crashes

What Are The Consequences For Getting An OVI/DUI In Ohio?

Driving a vehicle after drinking alcohol can result in legal consequences if a person is stopped with a blood alcohol content (BAC) that exceeds Ohio’s legal limits.

The legal limits for driving while drunk in Ohio is as follows:

  • Standard Adult: 0.8%
  • Underage (<21): 0.2%
  • Commercial: 0.4%

Unlike with alcohol, there is no threshold for which controlled drug use and driving is legal. Driving while under the influence of controlled substances such as marijuana, meth, cocaine, or heroin is illegal in Ohio, regardless of the amount used.

The consequences of being arrested on an OVI charge in Ohio can vary depending on whether a person has prior offenses. The lookback period in Ohio – which is defined as the amount of time prior offenses are relevant – is six years.

Legal consequences for an OVI arrest in Ohio:

  • First Offense (no prior offense)
    • Jail: 3 days to 6 months
    • Fines/Penalties: $250 to $1000
    • License Suspension: 6 months to 3 years
  • Second Offense:
    • Jail: 10 days to 1 year
    • Fines/Penalties: $350 to $1500
    • License Suspension: 1 to 5 years
  • Third Offense:
    • Jail: 30 days to 1 year
    • Fines/Penalties: $350 to $1500
    • License Suspension: 1 to 10 years
  • Additional Consequences: Interlock Ignition Device (IID) on vehicle required

Additional consequences may be sentenced in court for people who are arrested with a BAC equal to or above 0.17% and those with more than three offenses on their record.

Consequences For Refusing To Submit To A Chemical Test

Due to Ohio’s implied consent law, refusing to submit to a chemical test to assess BAC can result in certain penalties if the person does not submit within two hours of the alleged violation. Penalties for refusing to take a BAC test may include fines and license suspension – the length of which can vary based on someone’s history of prior offenses.

Potential penalties for refusing to submit to a chemical test within two hours:

  • First Offense: Suspended license for at least 30 days and up to 1 year
  • Second Offense: Suspended license for at least 90 days, and up to 2 years; potential vehicle seizure
  • Three Or More Offenses: Suspended license for 3-5 years

Please note that local laws for drunk driving may differ somewhat depending on where you live in Ohio and enforced legislature from your local judges, courts, and district attorneys.

Non-Legal Consequences Of Drunk Driving

There are also significant non-legal consequences that can occur from drinking and driving. The CDC reports that about one in three traffic deaths in the U.S involves a drunk driver.

Understanding the consequences of drunk driving requires paying attention to more than just troubles with the law. According to national data, alcohol is involved in nearly 29 percent of fatal car crashes nationwide.

Driving under the influence can also risk several other devastating consequences, including:

  • injury
  • car damage
  • financial consequences
  • damage to roads and other infrastructure

What Are The Effects Of Alcohol On Driving?

It’s never completely safe for a person to drive shortly after drinking any amount of alcohol. Although the legal limit for driving is a BAC of 0.8%, it does not take reaching this percentage for a person to become impaired enough to affect their driving ability.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the effects of alcohol on driving at various BAC levels include:

    • BAC 0.2
      • impaired judgment
      • lessened ability to track movement (effect on vision)
      • less able to multitask (e.g. checking mirrors and using turn signals)
      • decreased vigilance
    • BAC 0.5
      • decreased coordination
      • sluggish movements
      • difficulty steering
      • vision problems
      • lessened ability to react to emergency situations (e.g. quick stops)
    • BAC 0.8
      • problems with vision, hearing, and speech
      • decreased balance
      • less likely to detect danger
      • impaired perception
      • poor concentration
      • short term memory loss
    • Higher BAC levels (> 0.8)
      • swerving the vehicle
      • lessened ability to control brakes and other vehicle functions
      • vomiting
      • loss of balance
      • poor concentration
      • a significant decline in audio and visual processing functions

As demonstrated above, safety has no limit when it comes to drinking and driving. These effects demonstrate that there are several ways of having a BAC under the legal limit that can still impact a person’s driving ability.

How To Avoid Getting A DUI/DWI

The most effective way to avoid getting arrested or charged with an OVI is to avoid drinking and driving. Although the legal BAC limit in Ohio is 0.8%, according to state legislation, it is still possible for a person to receive an OVI offense for driving with a lower BAC if they appear intoxicated.

If you are going out to drink, consider making a plan for transportation beforehand. A common suggestion for groups is choosing someone to be the sober designated driver (DD) for the evening.

Other suggestions to help avoid drinking and driving include:

  • using ride-share services such as Uber or Lyft
  • asking a sober friend or family member to pick you up
  • going out to drink somewhere within walking distance of where you are staying
  • waiting enough time to become sober before attempting to drive (minimum of at least one hour for each drink consumed)

Even driving while “buzzed” can be risky and have consequences for a driver – legal and otherwise. If you or someone you know frequently drives while intoxicated, this may also indicate a serious alcohol problem.

When someone is abusing or addicted to alcohol, the dangers of drinking while driving may not be their greatest priority. Being addicted to alcohol can make it difficult for a person to go too long without drinking. This can be dangerous for someone behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and endanger others. The most effective way to overcome alcohol addiction is to enter an alcohol rehab program for professional treatment.

Treatment For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction

Drinking and driving can be very dangerous, especially for someone with an alcohol problem. Without seeking treatment, the effects of alcohol abuse on someone’s driving ability can grow worse and may lead to serious consequences with the law.

At our Ohio-based treatment facility, Vertava Health Ohio, we offer an effective alcohol rehab program at inpatient and outpatient levels to help patients overcome their alcohol abuse or addiction. Within our program, we develop personalized treatment plans for each patient to address the physical, mental, and psychological aspects of addiction.

Our facility also provides customizable programs for people with dual diagnoses, teens, and patients who are pregnant – as well as a wide range of traditional and holistic treatment services.

To learn more about the dangers of drunk driving and alcohol rehab programs at Vertava Health Ohio, contact one of our treatment specialists today.