There is a specific OVI offense in the law for those under the age of 21 who drink and drive called OVUAC, or “operating a vehicle after underage alcohol consumption.” The charge is also referred to as “underage consumption.” The Ohio Revised Code describes it in Section 4511.19(B). Your Youngstown OVI lawyer can explain the law to you in detail.
Though the legal limit for adults – those over the age of 21 – is 0.08 percent, minors, or those under 21 years of age, have a much lower limit. The penalties for the crime are also generally lower, though driving privileges and license suspension aspects remain the same for both age groups.
The blood alcohol content for OVUAC varies slightly in its wording, depending on the type of test given (whole blood, blood serum or plasma, breath, or urine). For most, if your results show at least a .02 percent blood alcohol concentration, you are considered to be driving while intoxicated.
Make no mistake; if you are under the age of 21 and a cop stops you and smells alcohol on your breath, he will arrest you for OVUAC. Even if you don’t appear to be impaired, you can be arrested simply because you smell like you have. Ohio has no tolerance for underage drinking and driving.
Driving After an OVUAC Charge
Any teen driver, or driver under the age of 21, whose Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is between .02 percent and .08 percent when given a breath test will be charged with OVUAC.
There are some differences in the penalties associated with underage consumption and adult OVI. For example, as long as the underage driver’s BAC is under .08 percent (or any of the other levels mentioned in the revised code in Section 4511.19(A)), he will not receive an Administrative License Suspension, or ALS, from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
However, if that driver refuses to submit to chemical testing of his blood, breath, or urine, he will receive an ALS. All the rules for adult OVI will be followed in this case, including completion by the arresting officer of BMV Form 2255.
Additionally, the underage driver whose test results show a BAC of higher than .08 percent (or any of the other levels mentioned in the revised code in Section 4511.19(A)) will also be subject to an ALS and the BMV Form 2255 procedures.
Probable Cause in Underage Consumption
Remember that a driver who is a minor can be arrested for OVUAC, regardless of how or if the alcohol is affecting him. The impairment or not of that driver is not the issue with underage drinking and driving.
If the driver has consumed even a sip of beer and the officer smells it, or even just suspects he has consumed it, the cop can ask for a breath test. Officers can ask for breath tests even when they don’t have probable cause to think the driver is inebriated. If the underage driver refuses to take the test, or takes it but shows a reading of .02 to .08 percent, the officer can fill out the form to administratively suspend the person’s driver’s license for underage consumption (not for OVUAC). The driver will not be placed under arrest for OVI.
The ALS form will be filled out, regardless, but it will only be processed if the driver refuses to submit to the breath, blood, or urine test.
When You’re an Impaired Underage Driver
If an officer stops a minor for a traffic violation and thinks the person is impaired by alcohol (or drugs), the young person will be arrested and receive an ALS. In this case, the arrest will be treated as any OVI arrest is, with similarly worded charges.
The offender’s initial court appearance will be set for no less than five days after the arrest. If convicted, the juvenile will receive similar penalties as an adult would, including the opportunity to attend alcohol education classes.