General FAQ’s

What are the levels of misdemeanors in Ohio?

Level of Misdemeanor



Community Service


Up to 180 days

Up to $1000*

Up to 500 hours


Up to 90 days

Up to $750

Up to 200 hours


Up to 60 days

Up to $500

Up to 200 hours


Up to 30 days

Up to $250

Up to 200 hours



Up to $150

Up to 30 hours

*OVIs carry a maximum fine of $1075

How long will my case take?

This depends on many things, including what county you’re in or what prosecutor/judge you’re dealing with. Additionally, the strategy with each case is different. On average, we advise our clients to expect a case to take 3-6 months. Cases that go to trial usually take longer.

What do I wear to court?

It’s hard to anticipate when you will be standing before a judge, so it’s important to dress appropriately for every court appearance. Attire such as suits, dress pants/khakis, blazers, button-down shirts, and ties are acceptable for men. For women, it’s appropriate to wear pencil skirts or dress pants, blouses, suits, and blazers. You should never wear flip flops, pajama pants, tank tops, short-sleeve shirts, shorts, hates, or low-cut tops.


General Questions

It is my first time being charged with OVI. Do I need an attorney?

Absolutely. It’s important to hire someone that understands the complex legal issues that are involved with being charged with an OVI. Additionally, OVIs in Ohio are enhanceable offenses, which means the penalties could increase if you were to get charged again in the future.

What are the maximum potential penalties I’m facing if convicted of an OVI?

On a first offense, you face a maximum of 180 days in jail, a fine up to $1075 plus court costs, up to 500 hours of community service, and a license suspension of up to 3 years.

A second offense OVI carries up to 180 days in jail, a maximum fine of $1625, a maximum license suspension of 7 years, vehicle immobilization, yellow plates and/or an interlock device as a condition of driving.

What are the minimum penalties I’m facing if convicted of an OVI?

On a first offense, the mandatory minimum penalties include 3 days in jail (which can be served in a Driver Intervention Program), a $375 fine plus court costs, and a 1-year license suspension. The license suspension requires 15 days of no driving before you’re eligible for driving privileges.

A second offense OVI carries a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail (20 days if you refused the breath test or blew over .17%), a minimum fine of $525, mandatory vehicle immobilization for 90 days if registered in your name, an alcohol assessment, and an interlock device if the OVI was alcohol related.

License Suspensions

What is an ALS?

ALS stands for Administrative License Suspension, which a suspension from the BMV. You can be placed under an ALS if you either a) submit to a blood/breath/urine test and test over the legal limit, or b) refuse to submit to a blood/breath/urine test. The length of this type of suspension increases with each subsequent offense.

Are there fees associated with an ALS?

An ALS suspension carries a mandatory $475 reinstatement fee with the BMV.

What is a court suspension? How is it different than an ALS?

A court suspension is a suspension imposed by a court upon a conviction. Some offenses, such as hit-skips and OVIs, carry mandatory suspensions that a court must impose. In contrast, the ALS is a civil suspension imposed by the BMV; you do not need to have a conviction to be placed under an ALS.

If I have a license from a state other than Ohio, can Ohio still suspend my license?

Technically, yes. Ohio has authority over who drives in Ohio, so if your license was issued in another state, Ohio can restrict you from driving within Ohio. However, it does not automatically mean you can or will be suspended or restricted from driving outside of Ohio.

What is an SR-22? Will I have to get one?

An SR-22 is a high-risk bond. It is normally required for those who didn’t have insurance or have a bad driving record (specifically those facing a 12-point suspension). If you are charged with your first OVI and were insured at the time you were charged, you will not need to get an SR-22.

What if I didn’t have insurance on the date that I was charged?

You’re required to carry insurance in Ohio. If you did not have insurance, the BMV will be notified at the end of your case. They will then place you under a Non-Compliance suspension, which is a suspension for not having insurance. You’ll be required to get an SR-22 and pay a reinstatement fee to the BMV. The length of the suspension and reinstatement fee amount both increase with each additional Non-Compliance suspension.

Blood/Breath/Urine Test

Should I take the breathalyzer?

It depends. If you have consumed no alcohol, you probably should take it because the penalties get more severe if you refuse the breath test. However, if you’d had more than one (1) domestic beer, we typically advise to refuse the breath test. They’re unreliable and it is giving the state less evidence to use against you.

Should I submit to a urine/blood screen?

If an officer suspects you’re under the influence of drugs instead of alcohol, they likely will request that you submit to a urine or blood test instead of a breath test. If you have consumed/ingested any type of drug for which you do not have a prescription, it is better to refuse.

If you’ve consumed alcohol, it also depends on the amount, much like submitting to a breathalyzer.

What’s the most reliable of the three tests?

Blood tests are the most reliable, followed by breath tests. Urine tests are the least reliable.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

What are they?

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) are tests that have been sanctioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (“HGN”), Walk-and-Turn, and One-Leg Stand.

What is the HGN?

The HGN is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, also known as the pen/eye test. When administering this test, officers will typically have you look at either a pen or their finger and follow it with your eyes for an extended period. Officers are looking for Nystagmus (involuntary jerking of the eye), which could indicate impairment.

Are there other Field Sobriety Tests that an officer may ask me to do?

Yes. Officers can also ask for additional testing, such as counting backwards, alphabet, finger dexterity, Modified Romberg, or Lack of Convergence.

Am I required to take the Field Sobriety Tests if requested by an officer?

No. Participating in the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests is optional, though officers typically won’t advise you of this. You are not under any obligation to participate in their tests.

Commercial Driver’s License (CDLs)

How will an OVI conviction impact my CDL?

If you are convicted of a first offense OVI, you face a mandatory 1-year disqualification of your CDL. If you are convicted of a second offense, you face a lifetime disqualification.

Can the BMV disqualify my CDL if I refuse a breath test?

If a CDL holder refuses a breath test, the disqualification period is one year for a first offense. A second refusal of the breath test is a lifetime disqualification.

Can the BMV disqualify my CDL if I submit to a beath test?

Though the legal limit is .08%, the Ohio BMV can suspend a CDL if the holder submits to a breath test and blows any detectible amount. The suspension for a positive test is 24 hours out of service. If the CDL holder blows .04% or higher, it’s a one-year suspension on a first offense and a lifetime suspension on a second offense.

Can I avoid a CDL disqualification if I’m charged with an OVI?

Yes. Though difficult, it is possible to avoid a CDL disqualification if you’ve been charged with an OVI. It’s important to hire an attorney that understands the CDL requirements, since even some amended charges (such as Reckless Driving or Marked Lanes violations) could be problematic for a CDL holder.


What is an expungement?

An expungement is a way to seal your record. If a case has been expunged, it’s as if it never happened.

Am I eligible for expungement?

The expungement statute is constantly changing, so it’s important to call an attorney to see if you qualify. Traffic offenses in Ohio, including OVIs, are not eligible for expungement.


“Wes and Chelsea have helped me in multiple ways; they maintain professionalism while helping support their clients.  They offer a sense of relief during a stressful time, they are consistent with keeping you up to date and they understand.  They make you feel better no matter what and have good standing with the court system that you have to deal with.  I appreciate all that this law firm has done for me.  You are in good hands trusting Wes and Chelsea if you need a defense!” J.T.

“Hi Chelsea! I just wanted to say thank you again for all that you’ve done for me these past few months. I’m so happy with the outcome and can’t thank you enough!” C.R.

“Hi Chelsea! I just want to say thank you for working on my case. My life has been a lot better since we had you defending me and I just want to say I appreciate you.” B.J.

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