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What is the Impact of Ohio DUI / OVI on Insurance Rates?

When we consider the impact of a DUI (called ‘OVI in Ohio), we typically think of the sentence imposed by the court.  The sentence for a first-offense OVI in Ohio includes a mandatory jail term of three days to 180 days, a mandatory license suspension for one year to three years, and a mandatory fine of $375 to $1,075.  In addition to those mandatory aspects of the sentence in court, there are secondary consequences for an OVI conviction.  One of the secondary consequences is an increase in the cost of auto insurance.

How Do Insurance Companies Determine Premiums?
Insurance companies are in the business of determining risk.  A company crunches numbers to calculate the anticipated risk that a certain driver with a certain vehicle will be involved in an auto accident.  When engaging in this calculation, the company considers vehicle variables and driver variables.  Some of the variables associated with the vehicle include the type of automobile, the age of the automobile, the state in which the automobile is driven, how frequently the automobile is driven, and how far the automobile is driven.  Some of the variables associated with the driver include the driver’s credit history, marital status, gender, age, and driving history.

Why Do Premiums Increase After an OVI Conviction?
An insurance company typically finds out about an insured’s driving history when the driver applies for a new insurance policy or applies to renew an existing policy.  During the application or renewal process, the company obtains the driving history of each driver to be covered by the policy.  If the driving history is obtained through the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the history goes back three years.

When an insurance company obtains the driving history, the company reviews the driver’s previous accidents and the driver’s previous convictions for traffic offenses.  With regard to traffic offenses, OVI is considered to be probably the most risky driving offense because operating a vehicle under the influence leads to more collisions than other traffic violations.  When the insurance company sees a conviction for OVI, the company will conclude the driver is likely to engage in dangerous driving behavior in the future.  As a result of the increased risk that driver will be involved in a future collision, the company charges a higher premium.

How Much Do Premiums Increase After an OVI Conviction?
A driver with an OVI conviction on his or her record can expect to pay higher auto insurance premiums than drivers without an OVI conviction.  According to, the increased premiums in Ohio are higher than the national average.  The national average increase is 99%, and the Ohio average increase is 111%.  That means, if your insurance premium in Ohio was previously $1,034 per year, it will be $2,188 per year with a record for an OVI conviction.  The actual increase varies among individual insurance companies, and some companies will not even insure drivers with an OVI conviction.

How Do I Avoid an OVI Conviction?
The condescending answer is, “If you don’t want an OVI conviction, don’t drink and drive”.  However, in Ohio, it is not illegal to drink and drive:  it is illegal to drive ‘under the influence’ or ‘over the limit’.  Some people charged with OVI in Ohio are clearly under the influence, while others may be in a gray area, and some are clearly not under the influence.

If you find yourself charged with OVI in Ohio, you will need to quickly decide whether you will plead guilty or contest the charge, as your first court appearance will take place within five business days.  If you are hoping to avoid an OVI conviction and the associated consequences, including increased insurance premiums, you may choose to contest the charge.  If you contest the charge, you will benefit from representation by a highly qualified OVI defense attorney.

About the Author:  Shawn Dominy is a leading DUI lawyer in Ohio and the founder of the Dominy Law Firm in Columbus, Ohio.  He can be reached through his law firm’s website:  Dominy Law Firm.

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Shawn Dominy

Shawn Dominy

Shawn Dominy is a DUI/OVI lawyer in Columbus, Ohio. He is the former President of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the state delegate to the National College for DUI Defense and a long-time member of the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers. Shawn Dominy authored the books 'Ohio DUI/OVI Guide', 'Ohio Vehicular Homicide Guide', and 'Ohio Vehicular Assault Guide' (Rivers Edge Publishing) and wrote a chapter in the book 'Defending Vehicular Homicide Cases' (Aspatore Publishing, 2012). He has several other published articles, and he speaks regularly at seminars teaching other lawyers about DUI/OVI. Shawn was named by SuperLawyers® as one of the top 50 lawyers in Columbus, Ohio, and he is listed as one of the 'Best Lawyers in America'® for DUI Defense. Shawn is a lifelong resident of central Ohio: he graduated from Olentangy High School and earned his bachelor’s degree and juris doctor from The Ohio State University. His office is in Columbus, and he lives in Powell with his wife and daughter. He serves with local community organizations, volunteers regularly at his church, and plays regularly with his German Shepherd. For more information, Shawn’s website is, his blog is,

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