Will you go to jail after a first-time OVI in Ohio?

Oct 14, 2022 | drunk driving

Drunk driving is a serious criminal offense that can result in penalties that may alter the course of your life. However, if this is your first offense, you may assume that the penalties you are facing are not that significant. Some first-time offenders may believe it is best to simply plead guilty and move on, but that is likely not the case. It may surprise you to learn that drivers in Ohio facing a first OVI may spend time behind bars.

Ohio law requires first-time OVI offenders to serve a mandatory three-day jail sentence. The thought of going to jail may overwhelm you, but it does not necessarily mean that you will find yourself behind bars. Through the Driver Intervention Program, you may have an alternative that will allow you to avoid jail time if convicted of a first offense of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Details of the DIP

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services offers the Driver Intervention Program, and it is an option for certain eligible offenders convicted of a first OVI. This program takes place over the course of several days, and it addresses issues such as traffic safety, addiction awareness, drug and alcohol abuse prevention, and more, and you will have to pay a fee in order to participate. Some of the specific issues the DIP could address include:

  • Psychological and physical impact of alcohol and drugs on one’s driving performance
  • Social consequences of drug or alcohol abuse, as well as its physical and mental consequences
  • Symptoms of alcohol and other types of drug abuse
  • Different levels of revocation and license suspension
  • Drugs, blood alcohol content and what legal impairment means
  • Treatment options and self-help resources for drug and alcohol addiction
  • Fines and levels of incarceration for drunk or drugged driving
  • Progressive nature of alcohol and drug addiction

While you may not be able to avoid all of the consequences associated with a conviction for drunk driving, it may be possible to avoid jail time. The specific options available to you regarding the mitigation of certain penalties — such as through the DIP, or fighting a conviction depend on the details of your specific case. Knowing your defense options is an important step for those charged with drunk driving or drugged driving, even if it is your first offense.