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What if I Live in Another State and Get a DUI/OVI in Ohio?

As an Ohio lawyer representing clients for DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio), I am often asked questions regarding what happens when an out-of-state driver is charged with OVI in Ohio.  This article answers the most frequently asked questions on that topic.


OVI Arrests and Bail
If an officer suspects a driver may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the officer investigates the driver for OVI.  At the conclusion of the investigation, the officer decides whether to arrest the driver.  If the driver is arrested, the officer asks the driver to take a test for alcohol and/or drugs.  The officer then issues a ticket and either releases the driver or takes the driver to jail.

The driver’s first court appearance, the arraignment, is held within five business days.  At the arraignment, the judge determines bail.  The primary purpose of bail is to encourage the driver to be present at future court appearances.  Bail may be a recognizance bond, an appearance bond, or a cash/surety bond.  In most OVI cases, a monetary bond is not required.  However, for a driver from another state, a monetary bond often is required.

If the bond is a cash bond or an appearance bond, the money is paid to the court and is refunded if the driver is present for all court appearances.  If the bond is a surety bond, a percentage of the bond (typically 10%) is paid to a bonding company which agrees to pay the full amount if the driver does not appear in court.  The money paid to a bonding company is not refunded.

Administrative License Suspension
Everyone who drives in Ohio, including out-of-state drivers, implicitly consents to testing for alcohol and/or drugs if arrested for OVI.  If a driver is arrested for OVI and either refuses a drug/alcohol test or tests ‘over the limit, the Ohio BMV imposes an immediate Administrative License Suspension (ALS).  The length of the ALS depends on whether the driver refused or tested ‘over the limit’.  The length of the suspension also depends on whether the driver has prior OVI/DUI convictions and/or test refusals in the previous ten years.

If a driver has a license issued by another state, the Administrative License Suspension only suspends the driver’s privilege to drive in the state of Ohio.  A driver subjected to an ALS can obtain limited driving privileges after a certain waiting period.  The length of the waiting period depends on whether the driver tested ‘over the limit’ or refused the test, as well as prior OVI/DUI convictions and/or test refusals in the previous ten years.

Appearing in Court
An out-of-state driver charged with OVI in Ohio is required to appear in court in Ohio.  The ticket issued to the driver will have a summons with the date, time, and location of the first court appearance (the arraignment).  At the arraignment, the driver enters a plea of Guilty, No Contest, or Not Guilty.  If the driver pleads Guilty or No Contest, the case is typically finished at the arraignment.  If the driver pleads Not Guilty, the case will be scheduled for additional hearings.  The additional hearings may include a pretrial hearing (to negotiate with the prosecutor), a motion hearing (for the court to decide legal issues), a trial (for the jury/judge to decide guilt), and a sentence hearing.

An out-of-state driver may be able to avoid appearing for some court appearances.  If the driver hires a lawyer and the lawyer files a motion for a hearing to be held in absentia, most judges will hold the arraignment and pretrial without the defendant present.  However, most judges will not agree to hold a motion hearing or a trial without the defendant present.

OVI Sentencing in Ohio
Ohio has an OVI sentencing scheme which provides minimum penalties and maximum penalties.  The penalties are the same whether the driver’s license was issued by Ohio or another state.  For a first OVI offense within ten years, the mandatory sentence includes:

  • A fine of $375 to $1,075
  • A license suspension (or privilege to drive in Ohio) of one year to three years
  • A jail term of three days to 180 days

In addition to the mandatory penalties, the sentence may include non-mandatory penalties such as probation, substance abuse treatment, and community service.  The sentence for an OVI conviction is enhanced if the driver has prior OVI/DUI convictions.

OVI Consequences in the Driver’s Home State
If a driver with a driver license issued by another state is convicted of OVI in Ohio (or receives an ALS in Ohio), Ohio will notify the home state of the conviction/suspension.  The home state then determines what, if any, action is taken in the home state.  Each state has its own law which outlines the consequences of a DUI conviction or ALS in another state.

Hiring a Lawyer
An out-of-state driver charged with OVI in Ohio may benefit from the assistance of a lawyer in the driver’s home state.  An out of state driver charged with OVI in Ohio would definitely benefit from the assistance of an OVI lawyer in Ohio.

About the Author:  Shawn Dominy is a leading OVI 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 www.dominylaw.com, his blog is www.columbusoviattorneyblog.com,

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