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Understanding OVUAC: Driving Under the Influence Under Age in Ohio

In Ohio, young drivers under 21 need to be especially careful about drinking and driving, as they fall under unique legal statutes. OVUAC, or Operating a Vehicle After Underage Consumption, targets those underage individuals specifically. Here’s what you need to know about this offense to stay informed and on the right side of the law.

What Does OVUAC Mean?

OVUAC stands for “Operating a Vehicle After Underage Consumption” and relates to drivers below 21 who have consumed alcohol. Unlike standard OVI (Operating a Vehicle Impaired) offenses, the OVUAC is solely for those underage and carries stricter blood alcohol content (BAC) limits.

The BAC levels that constitute OVUAC charges are as follows:

  • Breath Alcohol Concentration from 02g to less than .08g;
  • Whole Blood Alcohol Level from .02% to less than .08%;
  • Blood Serum or Plasma Alcohol Level from .03% to less than .096%;
  • Urine Alcohol Concentration from .028g to less than .11g.

Addressing the Charge of OVUAC

If an officer suspects an underage driver has been drinking, evidenced by the smell of alcohol or through erratic driving, they may charge the individual with OVUAC based on results from a breathalyzer test. This happens if the test shows a BAC of .02 up to less than .08, without any probable cause for a full OVI offense. The critical factor here is the BAC reading, not necessarily signs of overt impairment.

Should the BAC exceed .08%, the charge could escalate to a standard OVI, with more severe repercussions. It’s important to understand these distinctions, whether you’ve faced such a situation or are taking preemptive measures to avoid legal trouble.

Underage drivers with BAC readings within OVUAC levels may not face an Administrative License Suspension (ALS) if they agreed to the chemical test and the results are below .08% BAC. However, refusing the test triggers an ALS suspension due to the refusal, and the same BMV 2255 form completion processes apply.

If the BAC reading is at least .08% or more, an ALS for a positive test is expected, necessitating the completion of the same formalities.

Points to Note for Underage Drivers:

  • Operating a vehicle with a BAC between .02% and .08% is prohibited for anyone under 21.
  • An officer can request a breathalyzer without probable cause for OVI, just based on suspicion of alcohol consumption.
  • Refusal to undergo a chemical test or submitting to a test with results between .02% and .08%, the driver’s license can be administratively suspended but won’t lead to an OVI arrest.

OVUAC and The Law

Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Section 4511.19(B)(3) explicitly lays out the guidelines for underage alcohol consumption as it relates to driving. The legal focus for OVUAC cases is not impairment per se but the fact of consumption and the resultant BAC level.

A charge under ORC Section 4301.69 can be raised against an underage person who attempts to purchase, pays for, or consumes alcohol. The result could be an immediate ALS, reinforcing the strict stance Ohio takes against underage drinking, particularly when mixed with driving.

Bottom Line

The key takeaways for Ohio’s young drivers regarding OVUAC are the strict BAC limits and the potential for license suspension even at low levels of alcohol consumption. Contacting a  Youngstown criminal lawyer in Youngstown, like those at Youngstown Criminal Law Group, can offer guidance and support if you find yourself facing any related charges.

Staying well-informed about OVUAC regulations is vital, whether you’re a guardian educating a young driver or an underage individual navigating Ohio’s roads. Drive responsibly and always think twice before getting behind the wheel after consuming any amount of alcohol.

Underage Impaired Driving Penalties and Procedures

Arrest and Consequences for Minors Under Influence

In situations where a law enforcement officer suspects that an individual is driving while impaired, an arrest for Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI) can be made, consequently initiating an administrative suspension. Following each arrest related to underage consumption, the officer will fill out Form BMV-2255, which is an Administrative License Suspension form.

Minors facing charges of OVI or Operating a Vehicle after Underage Consumption (OVUAC) undergo a legal process akin to that of an adult, based on established probable cause under the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Section 4511.19(A) when the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is .08 or greater. Should the BAC fall between .08 and less than .170, charges will be laid by ORC Sections 4511.19(A)(1)(a) and 4511.19(A)(1)(d). These charges will be noted on the Minor’s Uniform Traffic Ticket (MUTT) under the “Description of Offense” with identical language as is used in adult charges.

For cases where the minor’s BAC is at or exceeds .170, the officer will levy charges under ORC Sections 4511.19(A)(1)(a) and 4511.19(A)(1)(h), again mirroring the language used when charging adults.

In instances where there is probable cause to believe a minor is under the influence but they refuse any chemical test, the charge will be ORC Section 4511.19(A)(1)(a).

The juvenile’s initial court appearance is typically scheduled within five days following the arrest, or on the following working day, at 2:30 PM at the Juvenile Court located in the Broadway Building at 800 Broadway.

For individuals under 21 facing charges of operating a vehicle and having consumed alcohol or drugs (OVUAC), it is advisable to seek the expertise of a Youngstown OVI lawyer. Our team represents clients confronting drunk or impaired driving allegations across Mahoning County, Ohio, and the neighboring regions.

We can offer detailed advice about the specific law enforcement protocols in Mahoning County, OH, regarding the charging of underage individuals who have used drugs or alcohol. These protocols extend across a range of law enforcement agencies including the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, Youngstown Police Department, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Our Youngstown Criminal Law Group is also well-versed in the workings of the Mahoning County OVI Task Force and how it impacts OVI inquiries, as well as the management of sobriety checkpoints and roadblocks.To discuss your case with a Youngstown OVI attorney in Youngstown, OH, please dial (330) 992-3036 today.

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