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Ohio Legislature to Consider Increased Penalties for OVI and Vehicular Homicide

The Ohio General Assembly will soon be considering proposed legislation affecting cases of Operating a Vehicle under the Influence (OVI) and Aggravated Vehicular Homicide.  House Bill 37 was approved by the Criminal Justice Committee of the Ohio House of Representatives.  For OVI, the bill proposes changes to fines and limited driving privileges.  For Aggravated Vehicular Homicide resulting from an OVI offense, the bill proposes changes to the enhancement of the offense level, prison term, and fines.

Proposed Changes to Ohio OVI
The two proposed changes to Ohio OVI law relate to fines and limited driving privileges.

Fines.  In Ohio, the sentence for an OVI conviction includes a range of possible fines.  There is a minimum mandatory fine and a maximum possible fine.  The fine range depends on the defendant’s number of prior OVI convictions.  House Bill 37 would increase the fine range for all OVI convictions:

Offense NumberCurrent Fine RangeProposed Fine Range
First$375 – $1,075$750 – $1,250
Second within ten years$525 – $1,624$1,200 – $2,000
Third within ten years$850 – $2,750$2,000 – $2,750
Felony$1,350 – $10,500$2,300 – $10,500

Limited Driving Privileges.  For a person convicted of OVI in Ohio, the sentence includes a driver’s license suspension, and there is a waiting period to obtain limited driving privileges.  For a first-offense OVI, the waiting period is currently 15 days.  Under House Bill 37, a defendant could only receive limited driving privileges in 15 days if the defendant agreed to use an ignition interlock device as a condition of the privileges.  Without an ignition interlock device, a defendant would be required to wait 30 days for limited driving privileges.

Proposed Changes to Ohio Aggravated Vehicular Homicide
The two proposed changes to Ohio law for Aggravated Vehicular Homicide resulting from an OVI offense relate to enhancement of the offense level, prison term, and fines.

Sentence Enhancement.  Currently, a charge of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide resulting from an OVI offense is typically a second -degree felony, punishable by a prison term of up to eight years.  However, the offense is enhanced to a first-degree felony, punishable by a prison term of up to 15 years, under the following circumstances:

  • Three or more convictions, within the past ten years, for OVI.
  • Three ore more convictions, within the past ten years, OVI-related Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, OVI-related Aggravated Vehicular Assault, OVI-related Involuntary Manslaughter (or a combination of the listed offenses).
  • Two or more convictions for felony OVI.


Under House Bill 37, the offense would be enhanced to a first-degree felony, punishable by a prison term of up to 20 years, under the following circumstances:

  • One or more convictions, within the past ten years, for OVI.
  • One or more convictions, within the defendant’s lifetime, for OVI-related Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, OVI-related Aggravated Vehicular Assault, OVI-related Involuntary Manslaughter.
  • One or more convictions for felony OVI.


Fines.  Currently, the fine for Aggravated Vehicular Homicide resulting from an OVI offense is a maximum of $15,000 for a second-degree felony and $20,000 for a first-degree felony.  Under House Bill 37, the fine for either version of the offense would be $25,000.

Next Steps for House Bill 37
The Criminal Justice Committee of the Ohio House of Representatives approved House Bill 37 on May 7, 2024.  To become law, the bill must be passed by the House, introduced in the Senate, passed by the Senate, and signed by the Governor.  Developments with the proposed legislation will be reported in this blog.

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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