With the main part of the holiday season approaching, more people will be attending parties. Alcohol will likely be consumed, especially on New Year's Eve. Police and state troopers will be on the lookout for drivers who are impaired, trying to keep the roads safe for everyone.
But do you know if you live near someone who already has a drunk driving record? Not all those convicted of drunk driving are issued special license plates -- dark yellow with red numbers/letters -- so you can spot a driver who's been convicted.
Sometimes first-time offenders are assigned the yellow and red plates, but normally it is second, third, and fourth-time offenders.
The restricted plates are mandatory on all DUI offenses except a first offense with a "low end" test result (under 0.17 on the breath test at the police station).
Restricted plates become applicable in most courts once a driver requests limited driving privileges.
Some judges and courts require the restricted plates immediately upon a driver becoming eligible for privileges; others require the plates only upon a plea or conviction.
The DUI law has been established since 1967 and in 2004 the law was enhanced to make the yellow plates used more frequently. The special DUI license plates are yellow with red letters/numbers.
The plates are used only while the owner has limited driving privileges, which is normally for about six months to a year.
In 2012, Ohio overall had 19,088 DUI arrests, according to public records. That is in a population of 11,544,951.
Does Ohio have a lot of drunk drivers?
As of March 2013, according to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, here is a 10-county look at the number of drivers with three or more DUIs:
- Ashtabula: 2,325
- Cuyahoga 12,644
- Geauga 1,071
- Lake 4,090
- Lorain 5,599
- Mahoning 2,642
- Portage 2,657
- Stark 6,076
- Summit 7,466
- Trumbull 3,000
Ohio law changed 10 years ago. In 2003, state lawmakers agreed to decrease Ohio's legal limit for blood alcohol content from .10 to .08.
The previous limit of .10 had been in place since the early 1980s, when it dropped from .15. Operating a vehicle while intoxicated includes drugs as well as alcohol, but alcohol makes up the vast majority of citations.
According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, as of June 2013, here are Ohio's worst DUI offenders:
Curtis E. Sears, 54, of Middletown 20 convictions (1986-2005)
Robert P. Burton, 51, of Youngstown 20 convictions (1983-2005)
Robert E. White, 66, of Columbus 19 convictions (1983-2008)
Todd R. Manley, 48, of Hudson 18 convictions, 32 suspensions (1986-2002)
Antonio Briseno, 50, of Toledo 18 convictions (1986-2005)
William A. Campbell, 43, of Cincinnati, 9 convictions since 1990 and convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide in 2008
It is illegal in Ohio to operate a vehicle while under the influence. A driver can face this charge if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or higher, regardless of whether or not there is evidence that their ability to drive is impaired.
If there is evidence that they cannot control the vehicle, they will be charged with an OVI even if their BAC falls below .08.
It is also illegal under Ohio law for drivers under the age of 21 to drive a vehicle if their BAC is .02 or higher. The underage charge is called operating a vehicle after underage alcohol consumption (OVUAC).
When a driver is convicted of their first OVI in Ohio, they face a 3-day minimum jail sentence, up to a possible maximum of 6 months. There is a chance the court will allow them to complete a 3-day driver intervention program instead of going to jail.
The driver will also have to pay a fine of $250 to $1,000. Their drivers license will also be suspended for a period of 6 months to 3 years.
When it is reinstated, they will have to pay a fee of $450. If a drivers BAC is .17 or above, the jail term has a mandatory minimum of 6 days to a maximum of 3 years.