|Ohio's Drunk Driving Laws||
A key provision of Ohios DUI law is administrative license suspension (ALS). Under the law (effective September 1, 1993), any motorist stopped for drunk driving who refuses to take the sobriety test or whose test results exceed the legal limit of .10% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) will have his/her license taken administratively on the spot, with suspension effective immediately. Depending on previous offenses, the ALS period can range from 90 days to five years.
On criminal citations, a court of law may also impose additional penalties or license suspension at the judges discretion.
How ALS works
If a person is stopped and arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and either fails or refuses a blood alcohol or chemical test, the officer seizes the offenders drivers license on the spot, serves notice of suspension and sends the offenders drivers license to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).
The time period that the BMV administratively suspends the offenders driving privileges is shown in the chart below.
The offender can appeal the suspension orally at the initial court appearance (held within five days of arrest). At the requested appeal hearing, the court addresses the following issues (burden of proof is on the defendant):
If the court answers all of the above questions with a yes, then the court affirms the suspension. If the court answers any of the questions with a no, then the court terminates the suspension and gives driving privileges back to the alleged offender. In addition, if the court determines the offender is a threat to public safety, even if the above questions are answered no, the offender may receive a judicial suspension.
Fines, jail time and penalties
Based on previous DUI offenses, fines range from $200 to $10,000. Jail time ranges from three days to one year. Fines and jail sentences are as follows:
Driving under DUI suspension
When driving under a DUI suspension or driving under suspension without insurance/proof of financial responsibility, the court is authorized to order vehicle immobilization and impoundment of the license plates at the time of sentencing.
The penalties for such conduct, based on convictions within a five-year period, are:
Note: For multiple DUI offenders under suspension, the court may also impound the plates of any other vehicle owned by the offender. Also, if forfeiture occurs, the offender cannot register or title any vehicle in his or her name for five years.
Ohio Supreme Court activity
In July, 1996 the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Administrative License Suspension (ALS) portion of Ohios drunk driving law, which allows for the immediate suspension of the license of a person stopped for drunk driving and either refusing to take a blood alcohol content test or taking the test and failing.
However, the court voided a provision of the drunk driving law that permitted the state to seize the vehicle without a prior hearing when the driver was not the owner.
Recent Ohio DUI legislation
New national DUI standard
On October 23, 2000, President Clinton signed a bill that set the national drunk driving standard at .08 BAC. The standard was included as an amendment to the massive $58 billion transportation spending bill.
By 2004, all states will be required to adopt the stricter standard or face penalties which include the loss of federal highway trust fund money ranging from 2-8% (percent is determined depending on how soon after 2004 the standard is adopted). The fund collects money from a 4.3% federal gasoline tax and distributes it to states for building highways, bridges and other infrastructures.
The following states have already established the .08 BAC standard: Alabama, California, DC, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
Blood Alcohol Concentration
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is a measure of the amount of alcohol in the body. Blood alcohol is measured directly through testing blood or indirectly through tests that use breath, urine or saliva.
Note: Alcohol consumption affects individuals differently. Information provided on these pages should be viewed as generalizations only.
Numerous factors, including weight, sex, amount of food in the digestive tract and time spent drinking, affect an individuals absorption of alcohol. BAC levels and the number of typical drinks required to reach them have been roughly estimated in Figure 1, Blood Alcohol Content and Typical Drinks. The chart suggests that after drinking three drinks in one hour, a male of 160 pounds will reach a BAC of .05%, whereas a female of 120 pounds will reach a BAC of .06%.
Most people will be noticeably drunk by the time their BAC reaches .10%. Even though some drinkers appear to be in control of themselves, they nevertheless have lost crucial driving abilities, as illustrated in Figure 2, Blood Alcohol Content and Skills Impairment.
The chances for becoming involved in a crash begins to rise at BAC .04% to .05% and increases rapidly thereafter, as seen in Figure 3, Blood Alcohol Content and Crash Risk.
By the time a driver reaches a BAC of .06%, the motorist is twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as a nondrinking driver.
And at levels of .10%, a driver is 12 times more likely than a nondrinking driver to be involved in a fatal crash.