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Common Questions About DUI/OVI in Ohio

Is DUI/OVI in Ohio a Felony?

Whether or not a DUI/OVI is a felony depends mainly your previous OVI record.  An OVI becomes a felony if you have:

  • 3 or more OVIs in 10 years
  • 5 or more OVIs in 20 years
  • Any felony OVI from any period of time

We go into more detail about the differences between misdemeanor and felony OVIs in “OVI in Ohio: Misdemeanor or Felony?”

Is Jail Time Mandatory for a First Time OVI in Ohio?

The short answer is, not necessarily.  Generally, a first-time OVI offender of legal drinking age will be sentenced to some jail time or to participate in the Driver’s Intervention Program.  Sometimes a first time offender can be ordered to participate in the Driver’s Intervention Program instead of doing any jail time, but other times a first time OVI offender can spend up to 6 months in jail.  It all depends on the circumstances of the case.

If you are concerned about a first time OVI, we recommend reading the article linked here where we go into detail about first time OVI offenses.

Does a DUI/OVI Stay on Your Record in Ohio?

A DUI/OVI conviction in Ohio stays on your record permanently.  Expungement and sealing of criminal records does not include traffic violations.  While OVI is a criminal offense, it is also a traffic offense.  Because it is a traffic offense, the record will not become eligible for sealing or expungement.

How Can You Get Out of a DUI/OVI in Ohio?

This is by no means a simple question, but we understand why it would be on the forefront of the mind of any ohioan charged with OVI in Ohio.  If you are facing OVI charges, the best thing to do is hire an attorney. You cannot always avoid a conviction, but an OVI conviction in itself does not determine the penalty you face.  Even the amount of previous OVIs on your record will not determine your sentence completely.  For every subsequent OVI you get, there are a wide range of penalties you may be facing depending on the circumstances.  An experienced lawyer can negotiate on your behalf to try to get you the best deal and even keep you out of jail if possible.


Ohioans charged with OVI normally have many questions.  Even if it is not their first OVI, the potential penalties change with every subsequent OVI as well as depending on the circumstances.  If you are worried about an OVI charge, or need legal help on any other criminal or traffic matter in Ohio, never hesitate to contact Dearie, Fischer & Martinson.