In Ohio individuals under the age of 21 who are charged with drunk driving offenses face a different scenario than individuals who are over 21. While the blood alcohol content limit (or BAC) for those age 21 and over is .08, the limit for those under age 21 is .02; one-fourth as much. This reduced tolerance should not be surprising as those under the age of 21 aren’t supposed to be drinking alcohol anyway and their personal alcohol tolerance is likely much lower than that of adults. Consequently small amounts of alcohol can substantially affect the driving capabilities of minors. The underage DUI (or OVI) is called “Operating a Vehicle after Underage Consumption” (or OVUAC).

The charging process and the administrative license suspension.

If a person under age 21 gives police a breath test result over .02 but under .08, they are ordinarily charged with Operating a Vehicle after Underage Consumption (OVUAC). If the test result is over .08, the charge will typically then be the same regular OVI (DUI) that an adult would be charged with. In the event that your child refuses a breath or chemical test, if the police still believe that your child is intoxicated based upon your child’s balance, driving, smell of alcohol, etc., your child will still be charged with a DUI/OVI. In that event police will need to convince a jury that your child was impaired through all of their observations of your child. This is often tricky for police as different juries often have very different opinions about what an intoxicated person would “look” like.


Additionally, in the event that your child gave a breath test (or other chemical test), or refused a breath (or chemical) test, an Administrative License Suspension (or ALS) will be imposed immediately. The length of these potential Administrative License Suspensions can vary depending on which occurred, and also the number of prior refusals, or failed chemical tests that your child has incurred in the past. Your child can eventually secure driving privileges but there is always an upfront ‘hard time’ portion of the Administrative License Suspension over which your child cannot get driving privileges. There are ways that your Dayton DUI lawyer can often get around these ‘hard time’ portions of Administrative License Suspensions. So contact our offices for a full explanation of your options.

The potential sentencing if your child is convicted.

Sentencing for a person under 21 who is convicted of DUI/OVI in adult court, depends on the particular charge and, oftentimes, the particular Court. If your child is ultimately found guilty of an OVUAC DUI/OVI, the penalties could include, for a first offense; a jail sentence of up to 30 days, a fine of up to $250, a license suspension of up to two years, yellow license plates, alcohol treatment, and probation. For a second OVUAC conviction, the jail sentence may be up to 60 days, the fine may be up to $500, and the license suspension may be up to five years.

If your child is convicted instead in a juvenile court (or “adjudicated”), the sentence (or “disposition”) may include a license suspension of up to two years, alcohol treatment, a fine, and probation. For an OVI, the disposition can also include confinement in a detention facility.

A person convicted of OVUAC must also wait a mandatory 60-days to get limited driving privileges for work and school. Additionally, a person convicted of OVUAC must re-take the driver’s license test and periodically provide proof of insurance with the Ohio B.M.V. A conviction for OVUAC can also enhance a later conviction for OVI so that the later conviction carries tougher mandatory minimum penalties.

These tough potential penalties associated with underage drunk driving can be devastating for a young person. If you or your child has been charged with underage DUI/OVI in the Dayton area, a skilled DUI/OVI attorney can help.

What do I do?

Hope is almost never lost. As you can read in my many other blog posts (concerning field sobriety testing) police often do not administer the field sobriety tests in a way that is reliable. I carry certifications in field sobriety that are more current than those held by most police. Our attorneys will expose any problems in the testing. Further, what a policeman believes constitutes grounds to arrest your child is often different than what a Court would require. When our attorneys uncover and expose any potential problems with the government’s case against your child, that is the best time for negotiations with the prosecutors. If an outcome, that is acceptable to you, is not offered by the prosecutors, we take the case to trial. It’s as simple as that. We work for you. For an illustration of our renowned track record and how we can make a difference on your child’s case, please contact us to set up an appointment. You can also check out the many online reviews from our past clients.

Brock Schoenlein

Brock A. Schoenlein is a renowned trial attorney in Dayton, Ohio focusing in the areas of DUI/OVI and Felony Criminal Defense. He is licensed to practice law in the State of Ohio, in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and also in the Supreme Court of Ohio.