Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Defense Attorneys in NE Ohio

Ohio motorists risk serious fines, loss of their driving privileges, incarceration, and other criminal penalties if they are arrested for driving under the influence of drugs. Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is a misdemeanor, but prior convictions can increase the penalties imposed at sentencing or, in the case of a fourth conviction, elevate the charge to a felony.

Formal Criminal Charges under the Ohio Revised Code

Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.19 makes it a crime to operate a vehicle in Northeast Ohio while under the influence of a drug of abuse. The law lists concentrations of various controlled substances that, if present in a driver’s blood or urine, will establish that the individual was driving under the influence, including:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine or cocaine metabolite
  • Heroin or heroin metabolite
  • L.S.D.
  • Marijuana or marijuana metabolite
  • Methamphetamine
  • Phencyclidine


A first-time offender who commits a DUI can expect to receive a mandatory minimum jail term of three days with a maximum sentence of six months. As an alternative to the mandatory three-day jail sentence, a judge has the discretion to order an offender to attend and successfully complete a driver intervention program. Other penalties include a fine ranging from $375 to $1,075. The driver’s license of the individual will also be suspended for one to three years.

The penalties that a judge may impose upon a convicted motorist increase if there has been a prior violation of the DUI laws. Authorized penalties and sanctions include:

  • For a second offense within 10 years: 10 days to six months in jail, fines ranging from $525 to $1,625, one to seven-year license suspension, and completion of a drug treatment program if indicated in a substance abuse evaluation. Judges may also order that the person’s vehicle and license plates be impounded for 90 days.
  • For a third offense within 10 years: A minimum of 30 days up to a maximum of one year in jail and fines ranging from $850 to $2,750. License suspension is for a minimum of two years and a maximum of 12 years. Other penalties include mandatory participation in a drug treatment program and forfeiture of the offender’s motor vehicle.
  • For a fourth or fifth offense within 10 years: The charges are elevated to a felony with a mandatory 60-day minimum period of incarceration up to a maximum period of five years. Fines range from $1,350 up to $10,500. License suspension is for a minimum of three years up to a lifetime suspension. Participation in a drug treatment program is mandatory, and a judge may order the criminal forfeiture of the offender’s vehicle.
  • Six or more violations within a 20-year period will result in a felony charge and mandatory incarceration for 120 days with a maximum of five years, fines of $1,350 up to $10,500, mandatory drug treatment, license suspension, and vehicle forfeiture.

Ohio’s Implied Consent Law

An operator of a motor vehicle in Ohio is deemed to have given consent to a test of their blood or urine to determine the level of drugs, controlled substances, or metabolites. A driver who refuses to give a blood or urine sample when requested by a police officer having probable cause to arrest the person for DUI is subject to administrative proceedings to suspend the person’s license.

Under the implied consent law in Ohio, the license of a driver shall be suspended for one year if it is the person’s first refusal. Subsequent refusals within a six-year period will increase the length of the suspension to as much as three years.

Ohio law enforcement officers are authorized to use reasonable means to compel a driver to submit to a chemical test following a DUI arrest. An officer who uses force is immune from civil or criminal liability, provided it was done in good faith and without malicious purpose.

Defenses to a DUI Charge

A criminal defense attorney in Northeast Ohio might be of assistance to a person charged with committing a DUI after using drugs or a controlled substance. For example, if the controlled substance was obtained using a prescription issued by a doctor or other licensed health professional and was taken according to that person’s directions, it could constitute a defense under Ohio law.

Another aspect of a DUI arrest around which an attorney might be able to formulate a defense strategy concerns the requirement under the Ohio DUI law that a person must be in physical control of a vehicle in order to be charged. A person who is not in the driver’s seat or who is not in possession of the ignition key might have a defense to a DUI charge.

A DUI arrest can significantly affect your freedom and your financial future. For answers to your questions or concerns about DUI, contact Erb Legal LLC today at (330) 446-3606. We serve clients throughout Northeast Ohio.