Skip to Content
Call Us Today! 614-707-4239

Ohio Supreme Court Seeks Clarity in DUI Law


Litigation and laws are inherently laced with legalese, or language that is seemingly intentionally geared towards something only a lawyer or a judge could understand. However, sometimes even legal professionals are left questioning what a piece of legislation is saying, or how it is meant to act. Recently, the Ohio Supreme Court had to make a decision to help bring some clarity to the state’s complicated and conflicting DUI laws.

In particular, they were focusing on a case (State v. South, Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-3930) that involved both a third degree felony OVI – operating a vehicle impaired – and a repeat offender specification. An individual – we will call him Mr. North for the purpose of this informative entry – had received mandatory sentencing for both a felony OVI and a repeat offender specification. The end result was North potentially spending more time in jail that seemed to be possible for the violations.

Ohio Supreme Court Finds Harmony in Unity

When the Ohio Supreme Court looked at what was going on for the North case, after it had been appealed to a higher court, things did not seem to be adding up. In their report on the issue and their subsequent ruling, it was admitted several times that the language was confusing, if not a bit muddled. To try to clarify matters and help future legislators and litigators, the Judges decided that merging related and similar OVI counts was acceptable for purposes of sentencing.

Pursuant to the Supreme Court of Ohio they found that the trial court must sentence a defendant to a “mandatory prison term” of one, two, three, four, or five years for the repeat-offender specification. The trial court than “MAY” also sentence the defendant to an additional prison term of 9, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36 months for the underlying convictions on the OVI/DUI offense.

Ultimately, people in Ohio State should find some sort of relief due to this decision. Not only does it possibly lessen harsh convictions on OVI offenders, but it also makes the legalese involved with such cases all the clearer for judges, lawyers, and other members of the legal community. If you would like to know more about how the changes in statutes regarding OVI and DUIs in Ohio – or if you have been arrested for an OVI in Ohio State – you should contact The Meranda Law Firm today. Our Columbus criminal defense attorneys can help you make sense of complex DUI law or represent you for your DUI case; it all starts with a free case evaluation from our firm.