There’s a very good reason why U.S. states have strict penalties for anyone caught driving drunk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle collisions involving drunk drivers kill a person every 45 minutes in America. The penalties are there to curb the risk of fatal car accidents.
Ohio is no exception, as the state has harsh consequences for drivers charged with operating a vehicle impaired (OVI). But what happens if officers catch a minor for drunk driving?
In Ohio, the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level is below .08%. Police officers can charge drivers aged 21 and up with OVI if their BAC exceeds .08%. But for minors, it works a little differently.
If a driver below 21 has a BAC of at least .02% after being pulled over for testing, officers can charge them with operating a vehicle after underage consumption (OVUAC). However, minors who exceed the legal limit of .08% face a regular OVI charge.
OVUAC penalties vs. OVI penalties
Drivers under 21 years old charged with OVUAC could face the following penalties:
- First OVUAC conviction: Fines of up to $250, jail time of up to 30 days, four penalty points assessed into the driver’s license, and a license suspension between 90 days and two years.
- Second OVUAC conviction: Fines of up to $250, jail time of up to 60 days, four penalty points assessed into the driver’s license, and a license suspension of up to five years.
In addition to the above, minors charged with OVUAC may be required to retake driving tests, serve several days in a detention facility, remain on probation after their suspended license is reinstated, and other additional penalties.
Naturally, drivers 21 and above face harsher punishments. Minors who exceed the BAC level of .08% will also face the same penalties:
- First OVI conviction: Fines from $500 to $1,000, jail time from 10 days to a year, six penalty points on the driver’s license, and license suspension from six months to three years.
- Second OVI conviction: Fines from $350-1,500, jail time from one to five years, six penalty points, and a license suspension from one to five years.
Additionally, underage consumption of alcohol is illegal in Ohio, and any minor charged with OVUAC may face an additional underage consumption charge, which carries a $1,000 fine and six-month jail time.
What to do when a relative or friend below 21 years old gets an OVUAC/OVI charge
Whether your friend or loved one gets an OVI or OVUAC, you might want to secure the services of an attorney. An attorney may be able to help reduce the charges, which can be detrimental to young individuals.