Operating A Vehicle After Underage Consumption: Ohio’s Juvenile OVI Law
Ohio has made illegal the practice of operating a vehicle after underage consumption (OVUAC). O.R.C. 4511.19(B) makes it illegal for persons under 21 years of age to drive a vehicle with a concentration of .02 percent, but less than .08 percent by weight of alcohol by whole blood or breath, or with an equivalent amount by blood serum or plasma or urine. (1994 S.B. 82, eff. 5/4/94). In 2004, amended R.C. 4511.19(B) renamed the offense “operating a vehicle after underage consumption” (OVUAC). These quasi-zero tolerance levels are justified by the fact that this age group accounts for a “disproportionate share of alcohol-related accidents.” See Ohio Driving Under the Influence Law, 2009-2010 ed., Weiler & Weiler, pp. 24-25.
Operating a vehicle after underage consumption (OVUAC) does not result in an administrative license suspension if the suspected juvenile both takes the chemical test and the test result is less than .08 percent. If a test result is over the “over 21” prohibited level of .08 percent, then an administrative license suspension will be imposed. A refusal to take a chemical test also results in the imposition of an administrative license suspension.
In State v. Gibson, 2000 WL 303134 (Ohio Ct. App. 4th Dist. Ross County 2000), the Fourth Appellate District held that “because the pers se limit for a violation is so minimal, an officer may have probable cause to arrest a person under twenty-one on more ‘subtle’ factors than traditional indicia of probable cause for adult drivers. You may hear DUI defense attorneys refer to OVUAC as “baby DUIs.”