Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in Ohio
15 Apr
Author: Colin Maher
Date: 2019-04-15
Categories: Traffic

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in Ohio

Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges in Ohio take driving under the influence of drugs every bit as seriously as they do drunk driving. In, fact, they use the same criminal code language of “operating a vehicle while intoxicated,” or OVI, and impose the same basic penalties.

Ohio state statutes and criminal sentencing guidelines also set legal blood and urine concentration limits for several prescription medications and illegal drugs. Exceeding those limits expose drivers to immediate license suspensions. Exceeding those limits by more than twice the statutory concentrations brings stiffer sentences.

Individuals suspected of driving under the influence of drugs in Ohio have their blood and urine tested for the presence of the following controlled substances:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • Marijuana/Cannabis
  • Methamphetamine
  • PCP
  • Salvia

Opioid painkillers like OxyContin (oxycodone), Percocet (oxycodone), and Vicodin (hydrocodone) can also impair driving. This means that drivers taking those medication may find themselves charged with OVI even if they used their prescribed dose.

Drugged Driving and Administrative License Suspensions

Drivers who refuse to voluntarily provide blood and urine samples for drug testing face an administrative license suspension (ALS). The arresting officer has the authority to seize a driver’s license and declare the individual unable to operate a motor vehicle in Ohio until a judge reinstates driving privileges or the suspension is terminated.

Similarly, drivers who test above the legal limit for a drug can lose their driving privileges to an ALS. In both instances, the administrative license suspension applies to the person’s personal license and any endorsement on that license i.e. motorcycle or commercial driver’s license.

A first-time test-refusal ALS lasts for 12 months, while a first-time ALS for a positive drug test lasts 90 days. Drivers under suspension can usually have partial driving privileges restored after a set period of time to get to work, doctors appointments, and/or court dates. No one, however, can legally be granted privileges to operate a commercial vehicle while under suspension in Ohio.

Criminal Penalties for a Drugged Driving Conviction

The table below summarizes the sentencing guidelines Ohio judges use for drug-related OVI cases.

Standard Penalties for a First Time Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Type of Penalty


Sentence for > 2x Legal Limit


3 days to 6 months in jail or Driver Intervention Program

6 days to 6 months in jail or 3 days and DIP




Addiction Treatment



License Suspension

1-3 years

1-3 years

Complete Ban on Driving

15 days

15 days

Offender Plates



Ignition Interlock

Required with unlimited driving privileges (not for limited)

Required unlimited driving privileges (not for limited)

Note that the individual sentenced for driving under the influence of drugs must pay the costs for completing each component of his or her sentence (unless declared indigent). This means that enrolling in a DIP, going through addiction treatment, and installing an ignition interlock must all come out of the driver’s pocket. Even reinstating a suspended license costs more than renewing one that remained valid. Overall costs of an OVI charge can easily cost between $5,000-$10,000.

Avoiding Penalties for Driving Under the Influence

Effective defenses against drunk and drugged driving charges exist. Attorney Colin Maher of The Maher Law Firm in Columbus has been named one of the best DUI/OVI attorneys in Ohio. He offers free consultations and takes most cases for a flat fee. Call him at (614) 205-2208 or connect with him online to learn if he can help you.

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