The legal limit for alcohol in Ohio varies depending on a person’s age. In general the legal limit for a person over the age of 21 is 0.08% BAC and persons under the age of 21 is 0.02% BAC.
What Does BAC Mean?
BAC stands for “blood alcohol concentration” and shows the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood. This is used to measure the level of intoxication and determine if a person is above the legal limit in Ohio because the BAC tends to rise with the amount a person drinks. Therefore the more alcohol they consume, the higher their BAC.
How is BAC Measured?
BAC is measured using either a breathalyzer or blood test. Because they are easier to use in the field, most police use a breathalyzer to determine if a person is above the legal limit for alcohol in Ohio. These require the driver to blow into a device, which then provides a breath alcohol concentration then used to determine BAC. The tests are largely effective, but can sometimes produce false positives as certain factors can contribute to the levels of alcohol in a person’s body, including medication, diet, and others.
BAC By Person
Blood alcohol concentration correlated to the amount consumed can vary from person to person. One young petite woman can have two standard drinks and be over the legal limit while an older, heavyset man can have the same amount and still be within the legal limit in Ohio. BAC tests are the most accurate for determining the actual level of intoxication, which is why they are widely used.
What Happens if You’re Driving Over the Legal Limit in Ohio?
If you’re caught driving over the legal limit for alcohol in Ohio and you are above the age of 21, you’ll likely be charged with an OVI. The consequences depend on how many OVI convictions a person has on their record. Penalties include:
- First Offense - Three days to six months in jail with fines up to $1,075 and license suspension of one to three years
- Second Offense - Ten days to six months in jail with fines up to $1,625 and license suspension of one to seven years
- Third Offense - Thirty days to a year in jail with fines up to $2,750 and license suspension of two to 12 years
Some people charged with an OVI may be required to complete community control sanctions which include drivers intervention programs and house arrest, depending on how many offenses the person has on their record.
Legal Limit Levels
A driver whose BAC is over two times the legal limit, or over 0.17%, in Ohio may be charged with an aggravated OVI. This charge brings different penalties than a normal OVI and include:
- First Offense - Three days in jail and three days of drivers intervention
- Second Offense - Up to 20 days in jail and/or 36 days house arrest
- Third Offense - Up to 60 days in jail and/or 110 days house arrest
If you’re found guilty of driving over the legal limit in Ohio you may also face license suspension.
What is the Legal Limit for Alcohol in Ohio if You’re Not Driving?
Believe it or not, you can be found guilty of operating a vehicle over the legal limit in Ohio even if you aren’t driving. You may find yourself charged with an “Actual Physical Control” offense if you’re found in possession of your keys in the driver’s seat of your car. The difference between operating a vehicle while intoxicated and actual physical control of a vehicle relies on:
- The location of the driver and car
- Where the keys are located
- If the engine is running
- If the driver is asleep
Generally, Actual Physical Control charges are given if the person is above the legal limit for alcohol in Ohio and not actually moving in the car but are checking all of the boxes to put the car in motion.
What is the Legal Limit for Alcohol in Ohio if You’re Under 21?
If you are under the age of 21 and pulled over, a BAC of 0.02% to 0.08% can get you an OVI charge. This would be a fourth degree misdemeanor and carries up to 30 days in jail, a max of $250 in fines, and license suspension of three months to two years.
Contact a Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with driving over the legal limit for alcohol in Ohio, contact a Columbus criminal defense attorney with knowledge of alcohol laws in Ohio to help you with your case. These attorneys can help you make the best plea in court to get your charges reduced.
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