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Cincinnati OVI Lawyer

An OVI is not the end of the road. Call an OVI lawyer near you at (513) 338-1890 for a free, confidential consultation.

Being arrested for OVI in Cincinnati is scary. You’ll be worried about your license, job, and the possibility of jail. The best thing to do is to call Cincinnati DUI lawyer Brad Groene with Luftman, Heck & Associates. Call for a free consultation.
(513) 338-1890

Get Help From a DUI Lawyer Near You

OVI charges can be dismissed, penalties can be reduced, and driving privileges are usually available. In short – an OVI in Hamilton County does not have to define your life.

But successfully defending against a DUI in Hamilton County typically requires help. At LHA, our Cincinnati criminal attorneys have a stellar record in OVI/DUI cases and a reputation for getting our clients the best possible result. Our Cincinnati OVI lawyers are here to explain all your defense options and how to move past an OVI.

Cincinnati, Ohio OVI Resources

The OVI attorneys at LHA are here to educate you on Ohio’s OVI laws and what people can expect if they are arrested for drunk driving in the Cincinnati/Kentucky area.

What to Do If You’re Pulled Over for DUI in Cincinnati?
  • You should stop where you and the officer will be as far from traffic as possible for your safety. If it is nighttime, turn on the dome light in your vehicle as the officer approaches. You are safest when the officer can see your movements. Turn off anything playing and place your hands on the steering wheel.

  • When the officer asks, you must provide your name, license, and proof of insurance. You are not legally entitled to withhold this information. Next, the officer may ask you questions. You are not required to answer questions. You should do what makes you feel comfortable and safe.

  • You may politely and concisely answer the officer’s questions or state that you will not answer without an attorney present.

  • If you feel you are being kept for an extended period without reason, you may ask if you are free to go. If the officer says “no,” do not try to drive away. But if the officer asks you to step out of your car, then you must get out. Do so slowly and calmly. However, never get out of the car without being asked.

  • When an officer suspects drunk driving, their next step may be to ask you to perform one or more field sobriety tests or to submit to a preliminary breath test, known as a breathalyzer. You always have the right to refuse these tests. However, if you refuse to take a breath test, you can face civil consequences, such as losing your license.

  • You may remain silent and refuse any tests. While this will not stop you from being arrested if an officer has probable cause that you are intoxicated, it may prevent the prosecutor from having much evidence that’s beyond the reasonable doubt standard.

  • Always contact a local DUI lawyer at your first opportunity.

DUI / OVI Laws in Ohio

You may hear people refer to drunk driving charges as an “OVI,” a “DUI,” or any number of terms. OVI / DWI / DUI / OMVI all refer to the same offense of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Specifically, under Ohio Revised Code 4511.19, it is illegal for you to operate a vehicle if you are:

  • Under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of them; or

  • Have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more.

Ohio OVI Legal Limits

Most people are familiar with the .08 BAC limit for adults, although they may not realize there are two tiers to the limit.

    OVI Per Se—

    The basic legal limit for adults is a BAC of .08 as determined in a breath or whole blood test; however, when the test is performed on blood serum or plasma, the legal limit for charging OVI per se is .096, and when the test is performed on a urine sample, the legal limit is .11.

“High Test” OVI—

When your blood alcohol concentration exceeds .17 in a breath or whole blood test, you can be charged with a “high test” OVI offense for having a BAC that is significantly over the limit. The penalties for a high-test OVI are more severe than for an OVI impaired or OVI per se. The high-test limit for blood serum or plasma sample is .204, and for a urine sample, it’s .238.

This chart provides additional information on whether your blood, breath, or urine is below or above the Ohio legal limit

Underage OVI Limits

People under 21 aren’t legally allowed to consume alcohol. Therefore, the legal limit for a driver under age 21 is a BAC of .02 in a breath or whole blood test, .03 in blood serum or plasma test, and .028 in a urine test.

Drugged Driving Limits in Hamilton County

If you’re charged driving under the influence of drugs or a controlled substance, the precise legal limit depends on the drug you allegedly took and the type of sample. Learn more about drugged driving here.

Penalties & Jail Time for OVI Charges in Cincinnati, Ohio

Most OVI crimes are misdemeanors, but some situations can escalate drunk driving to a felony OVI which may result in jail time, increased fines, and harsher penalties.

Ohio DUI Penalties Chart

You should know what you are up against and how to best defend yourself or diminish the potential punishment for your OVI. Specific OVI penalties will be mandatory, while others are optional for the judge to decide.

First Offense OVI
  • 3 days in jail or a certified driver intervention program.
  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Fines between $375 and $1,075
  • 6-month to 3-year license suspension
  • Limited driving privilegesafter 15 days (optional)
  • Alcohol education and treatment programs (optional)
  • Yellow OVI license plate (optional)
  • Ignition interlock device(optional)

  • 6 days in jail or a driver intervention program
  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Fines between $375 and $1,075
  • 6-month to 3-year driver’s license suspension
  • Yellow OVI license plate
  • Limited driving privileges after 15 days (optional)
  • Alcohol education and treatment programs (optional)
  • Ignition interlock device (optional)

More About First Time OVI Charges

A Second OVI
  • Between 10 days and 6 months in jail
  • Fines between $525 and $1,625
  • Probation
  • House arrest and/or electronic monitoring
  • Driver’s license suspension between 1 and 5 years
  • Driving privileges after 45 days
  • Ignition interlock device
  • Yellow OVI license plates
  • Alcohol assessment, education, and treatment

  • Between 20 days and 6 months in jail
  • Fines between $525 and $1,625
  • Probation
  • House arrest and/or electronic monitoring
  • Driver’s license suspension between 1 and 5 years
  • Limited driving privileges after 45 days
  • Yellow OVI license plates
  • Alcohol assessment, education, and treatment
  • Ignition interlock device

More About a Second OVI

Third OVI Offense
  • Between 30 days and one year in jail
  • Fines between $850 and $2,750
  • Probation
  • House arrest and/or electronic monitoring
  • Vehicle forfeiture, if the title is in your name
  • Limited driving privileges after 180 days after the initial charge
  • Driver’s license suspension between 2 and 10 years
  • Yellow OVI plates
  • Alcohol assessment, education, and treatment
  • Ignition interlock device

  • Between 60 days and one year in jail
  • Fines between $850 and $2,750
  • Probation
  • House arrest and/or electronic monitoring
  • Vehicle forfeiture, if the title is in your name
  • Limited driving privileges after 180 days after the initial charge
  • Driver’s license suspension between 2 and 10 years
  • Yellow OVI plates
  • Alcohol assessment, education, and treatment
  • Ignition interlock device

More About a Third OVI

  • Between 60 days in jail or prison and up to 30 months in prison
  • Fines between $1,350 and $10,500
  • Vehicle forfeiture, if the title is in your name
  • Driver’s license suspension from 3 years to life
  • Limited driving privileges after 3 years
  • Yellow OVI plates
  • Ignition interlock device
  • Alcohol and drug addiction program

  • Between 60 days and 5 years in prison
  • Fines between $1,350 and $10,500
  • Vehicle forfeiture, if the title is in your name
  • Driver’s license suspension from 3 years to life
  • Limited driving privileges after 3 years
  • Yellow OVI plates
  • Ignition interlock device
  • Alcohol and drug addiction program

More About Felony OVIs

Other Negative OVI Consequences

Aside from the criminal penalties, if you’re convicted of a DUI in Ohio, you can expect to deal with:

Dealing with a Cincinnati OVI: Related Articles

Here are some articles you may find helpful based on the unique circumstances of your OVI charge :

How An OVI Affects Your Driver’s License in Ohio

When you are arrested for OVI, you may face an administrative license suspension in two situations. The first is if you test over the legal limit. The second is if you refuse to submit to a lawful test. This is a civil penalty for violating Ohio law. It is not a criminal punishment.

Your criminal OVI license suspension applies if you are convicted.

If you fear the inability to drive after an OVI, you need to act fast and call a Cincinnati DUI attorney. You can appeal the suspension, but you must have a hearing within 30 days of your first court date (your arraignment).

DUI/OVI Limited Driving Privileges in Ohio

You can ask for driving privileges after a certain period of suspension. Limited driving privileges after an OVI charge may allow you to travel to and from work or school. You may also be able to drive to medical or court appointments, but you will not be able to go anywhere you want, whenever you want.

Ohio’s Yellow “Party” Plates

After certain DUI convictions, you may have to install OVI plates on your car. These plates are yellow with red lettering. Ohio DUI law calls these restricted license plates, though commonly referred to as party plates. In some cases, the plates are optional. In others, the party plates are mandatory. Regardless, you will be responsible for the cost and must keep the plates installed the entire time you have driving privileges.

Ignition Interlock Devices

Once your Ohio driver’s license is reinstated, or if you gain privileges, then in some instances, you may also need to install an ignition interlock device on any motor vehicle. You must blow into this device to turn on your vehicle and periodically as you drive. If any alcohol is detected, the device records the information. If the car is off, you will not be able to turn it on for a while. If you are driving, a notification will tell you to stop and pull over.

How long you must use the ignition interlock device depends on your DUI case. You may be required to use it for as few as 90 days or up to five years. If you fail one of your breath tests, it is reported, and your penalty will be extended or your privileges revoked.

The Cost of a Cincinnati OVI

There are a lot of costs associated with being convicted of a DUI in Ohio. Unfortunately, not everyone takes all the costs into consideration before accepting a fast plea to resolve a DUI quickly.

There are a lot of fines, court costs, administrative fees, and other expenses that come with an OVI charge in Cincinnati, even if you are not convicted. Some are unavoidable, while others can be reduced or eliminated.

Bail after an Ohio OVI

This is the amount set by the court to secure your release as a promise to return. It may cost you several hundreds of dollars to be released from jail after a DUI arrest.

OVI Chemical Test Fees

Breath, blood, or urine tests are common after a DUI. Whether the Cincinnati police or a medical facility administers those tests, you will receive the bill.

DUI Fines

A conviction will almost certainly include a fine. Ohio OVI law stipulates the minimum and maximum amount, but Judges have discretion in how much you are fined.

  • First DUI: $375 to $1,075
  • Second DUI: $525 to $1,625
  • Third DUI: $850 to $2,750
  • First Felony DUI: $1,350 to $10,500

DUI Court Costs

There are fees associated with going through the court system. You can expect to pay several hundred in court costs, although this could be less if your DUI case ends with a guilty plea.

Towing and Impound Fees

When you’re arrested for drunk driving, your vehicle may be towed and impounded. You are responsible for paying the fees to have your vehicle released. You also may have to pay an immobilization fee of $100 to reinstate your vehicle registration.

Alcohol Education Program Costs

Ohio usually makes their Driver Intervention Program (DIP) part of a sentence. You will be required to pay for it, which can be expensive. However, if you are an indigent offender, you may pursue financial assistance through the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Alcohol or Substance Abuse Treatment Costs

The court may require you to go through an alcohol or substance abuse assessment and complete a treatment program if necessary. If you must go through treatment, a program can cost several hundred to thousands of dollars.

Electronic Monitoring Fees

You may be required or agree to house arrest with electronic monitoring following a DUI. You are responsible for administrative and equipment fees for this program.

Restrictive Plate Fees

When you are required to place OVI plates on a vehicle, you are responsible for paying $11.75 for the new plate, the Deputy Fee of $5.00, and other miscellaneous fees for obtaining these plates.

Ignition Interlock Device Fees

You are responsible for the installation, maintenance, and removal fees associated with an IID, which can cost hundreds of dollars.

Driver's License Reinstatement Fees

Once the period of your driver’s license suspension is over, you must pay an OVI reinstatement fee of $475 to obtain a restricted license or an ordinary driver’s license.

Higher Auto Insurance Premiums

In addition to any SR-22 insurance requirements, your auto insurance costs will go up and stay up for years to come. You can expect to pay hundreds more for auto insurance over the next several years.

Attorney Fees

It’s difficult to determine the exact dollar figure someone can expect for DUI representation without understanding their unique circumstances. While investing in one of the best DUI lawyers you can may seem costly at first, it could save you the tremendous hassle and future financial losses related to having an OVI on your record. The best thing to do is to discuss your OVI case with a drunk driving lawyer ASAP.

How to Defend Against DUI Charges in Cincinnati, OH

Convictions are not set in stone. You may have options with the help of a DUI lawyer in Cincinnati, OH. A criminal defense attorney with experience defending OVI / DUI charges in Cincinnati can find the weak spots in a case and build a strategy that may get your OVI charge dismissed or your penalties reduced.

Here are some common strategies that drunk driving defense attorneys use to fight OVI charges in Hamilton County.

The Sobriety Test Was Inaccurate

Most OVI cases are built on the allegation that your BAC exceeded the legal limit or that you otherwise were impaired while driving. The police use various sobriety tests to evaluate your impairment.

Sobriety tests include:

  • Breath Tests
  • Blood Tests
  • Urine Tests
  • Roadside Field Sobriety Tests

None of these tests are infallible. The accuracy of the results can be affected by several factors.

The Traffic Stop Was Invalid

Outside of checkpoints, most OVI / DUI cases begin as a traffic stop. For example, a police officer may claim they saw you weaving in a way that suggested you were impaired. You got pulled over, were asked to take a DUI test, and ended up arrested.

In general, law enforcement must have probable cause to suspect you of illegal activity to pull you over. The law doesn’t require them to suspect you of DUI, but they have to have some reason for the stop. A valid reason can include something as simple as an expired license plate, crossing lanes, or speeding. Then if the officer smells alcohol and you fail a sobriety test, they’ve gathered evidence of impairment, and you could be arrested.

However, sometimes officers might pull you over on a hunch — or based on nothing at all. When that happens, your Cincinnati OVI lawyer should challenge the basis for your arrest. When an officer doesn’t have the necessary probable cause, your DUI defense attorney may be able to get your charge dismissed or the penalties reduced.

Insufficient Evidence of OVI

To convict you of OVI, prosecutors must prove certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt. First, they must prove you were operating a vehicle, which may or may not involve driving. In some cases, operating a motor vehicle can mean being in the vehicle while on, even if you were in the park.

Next, the prosecutors must prove that while you were operating the vehicle, you were intoxicated. By questioning how they obtained evidence of intoxication, you can significantly improve your odds of a dismissal or reduction.

How to Get OVI Charges Reduced

When facing a DUI charge in Hamilton County, there may be alternatives and options you can discuss with your OVI attorney. Unfortunately, unlike other states, Ohio does not allow DUI defendants to participate in pre-trial diversion programs.

The only way to avoid a conviction is to have the prosecutor drop the charges, have the court dismiss the case, reach a plea agreement for a charge other than OVI, or prove you are innocent in court.


  • Cincinnati Driver Intervention Programs: A 3-day program you may participate in and complete to avoid jail.
  • House Arrest With Electronic Monitoring: You may be forced to remain within your home entirely or to only leave for certain occasions. You may be required to answer random phone calls and pass random alcohol tests. If you leave your home and go to an unauthorized place, an electronic transmission notifies the authorities. If you violate the terms of home arrest, you could be sent to jail.
  • Continuous Alcohol Monitoring: You may be required to wear an ankle monitor with a sensor that continuously monitors for the presence of alcohol in your body.
  • Alcohol and Drug Education and Treatment: If your DUI was related to alcohol or drug abuse or dependency, getting the help you need may prevent repeat offenses. Alcohol and/or drug education and treatment may already be an optional or required condition of your sentence, but voluntarily entering a facility can sometimes spare you time in active custody.

Frequently Asked OVI Questions

OVI Arrests are common in Cincinnati, and many people have similar concerns about the process and what to expect.

Should I Refuse a Breathalyzer or Sobriety Tests?

You are not legally required to submit to a preliminary breath test or field sobriety test. These tests are for evidence-gathering purposes. You may politely decline, and you cannot be charged with a crime for doing so. But, refusing a preliminary test will not stop you from being arrested if the officer believes they have evidence you are intoxicated.

Remember, if you are arrested for drunk driving, Ohio’s implied consent law does require you to submit. Refusal of a valid chemical test can result in independent criminal charges and administrative license suspension.

Can Officers Search My Vehicle During a DUI Stop?

You have a reasonable right to some privacy in your vehicle, but it is not as strong as it is in your home. Therefore, in some situations, the police will justify searching your car in a situation involving possible drunk driving.

Typically, this happens with a warrant, if probable cause exists, or there’s evidence of a crime. For example, if officers see alcohol containers, drug paraphernalia or believe there may be a weapon in their possession, they can and will search.

Additionally, the police search your vehicle if you give consent. The police may ask if they can look through your vehicle or trunk. Do not say yes to this. If the police are asking, they do not have probable cause to do so without consent.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a DUI Charge in Ohio?

After being arrested for a DUI, you may wonder whether you need to hire an OVI defense attorney. The concise answer is “yes.”

Most individuals are simply not knowledgeable enough in the criminal court process, proper police procedure, or the subtle nuances of Ohio OVI law. If you want to resolve an OVI charge with the most favorable terms possible, given the situation, there is no substitute for aggressive and experienced legal representation from a DUI lawyer in Cincinnati.

That said, we know that finding the right OVI attorney can be difficult and understand how the cost might worry you. However, the cost of not hiring an OVI lawyer can be much worse.

How Can I Get an Ohio OVI / DUI Charge Reduced or Dismissed?

The unique facts of your DUI case will matter a lot when pursuing a reduction or dismissal. For instance, if it’s a first offense or doubt exists surrounding your level of impatience, you may stand a good chance at getting an OVI reduced to something more appropriate, such as reckless driving. If there are severe problems with the case or evidence involved, your DUI defense attorney could move to have the whole case dismissed. 

Can OVIs be Expunged in Ohio?

Unfortunately, No. Current Ohio law does not allow for the expunging or sealing of OVI convictions. If convicted, it will remain on your permanent criminal and driving record.

Does Ohio Have an OVI Look Back Period?

In 2017, Ohio extended the look-back period for prior DUI offenses from 6 to 10 years. Therefore, any new DUI/OVI charges in that timeframe are considered a second offense. If your past conviction were more than 10 years ago, it would be treated as a first offense. 

Questions to Ask a Cincinnati DUI Attorney

When looking to hire someone to represent you in an OVI case, asking the right questions of your potential OVI attorney is as important as who you ultimate decide to represent you. The following are some questions to ask a DUI attorney before you hire one.

How many years have you been a practicing attorney?

This is an important question and basic information to know and learn about your attorney. Selecting someone with sufficient experience in the courtroom and who also practices criminal law is undoubtedly a wiser choice than someone who focuses in another area or who has never seen the inside of a courtroom. There is also a good chance they will be familiar with the court system, judge, and prosecuting attorney.

How many OVI / DUI cases have you handled?

As indicated in the previous question, an attorney who has previously represented OVI / DUI clients will have more experience than someone who has not or has only done so a few times.

How many OVI motion hearings or trials have you handled?

While an attorney who handles OVI / DUI offenses is important, it’s also critical that they have litigation experience as well. Familiarity with the courtroom as well as judge and prosecuting attorney will work in your favor.

Are you certified to administer field sobriety tests?

An OVI attorney who is trained to administer field sobriety can better examine and assess whether the officer made any mistakes in tests conducted on you. If there were any errors or irregularities, those can be used to weaken the prosecution’s case and perhaps allow you to get a better sentence.

Have you ever been disciplined by the Ohio State Bar?

Hiring an ethical, honest DUI attorney who has no record of being disciplined by the state bar is ultimately who you should select. Someone who has no history of being disciplined by the state bar will treat your case with the utmost attention and respect it deserves, as opposed to someone who has been penalized or sanctioned for ethical or character reasons.

What do you think the outcome of my case will be?

It is important to be aware of what outcome you can realistically expect. Ideally, you should select an attorney who is honest and frank and will review the best- and worst-case scenarios with you. Be wary of DUI attorneys who promise you a certain outcome – there are no guarantees that your case will have one result or another, although certain outcomes can be likely.

What are your DUI attorney fees?

Before you hire someone, it’s important to be aware of their costs and fees and to find representation that fits within your budget.

Contact A DUI Attorney in Cincinnati, OH Today

Whether it happens in Mason, Highpoint, White Oak, Norwood, Milford, Bridgetown North, Queensgate, Mt Adams, Mansion Hill, or Newport, a DUI in or around Cincinnati can happen to anyone.

You may be angry, frustrated, and stressed, but the decisions you make about how to handle your OVI charges early on will matter tremendously. At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we understand all of this. As an experienced DUI law firm, we also know how and what will help.

Call LHA Cincinnati’s law office at (513) 438-8694. We are available 24/7 and offer 100% free initial consultations.