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Alcohol and the Law

You have a responsibility to follow the laws of your city, state, and nation. If you fail to live up to that responsibility, you may face certain penalties. This section describes the potential legal consequences of committing an alcohol-related criminal offense.

SLS strives for a legally educated and aware community. Through education and support, many problems can be prevented in the first place! By paying proper attention to conflict when it arises, one can hope to minimize negative consequences, and become empowered along the way.

Underage Consumption, Purchasing, and Possession of Alcohol
The legal drinking age in Ohio for consumption of an alcoholic beverage is 21 years old. Anyone purchasing, possessing, or consuming alcohol prior to their 21st birthday is guilty of a first degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalties associated with this offense are 6 months imprisonment, a $1,000 fine, or both. A 20-year old student, therefore, risks being imprisoned and fined when he/she decides to drink alcohol at a party or elsewhere.

Providing Alcohol to an Underage Person
Similarly, a person who furnishes alcohol to an underage person is guilty of a first degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalties associated with this offense are 6 months imprisonment, a $1,000 fine or both. A social host, therefore, risks being fined and imprisoned when he/she furnishes alcohol to a person he/she knows or should know is not 21 years of age.

Fake ID
Possession or display of a fictitious operator's license is a first degree misdemeanor. The offense includes mere possession of a fictitious license or display of someone else's valid operator's license. The maximum penalties for this offense are 6 months imprisonment, a $1000 fine, or both. Moreover, the fictitious operator's license is utilized to purchase alcohol or enter an establishment that serves alcohol, the minimum fine must be at least $250.00 and the person displaying the fictitious operator's license may have his valid operator's license suspended for 3 years.

Disorderly Conduct
Likewise, disorderly conduct while intoxicated is a minor misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of a $100.00 fine. Disorderly conduct occurs when one recklessly causes inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm to another due to offensive conduct.

Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated (OVI)
In Ohio, a person may not operate a vehicle if he is impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. The maximum penalties for operating a vehicle while under the influence are 6 months imprisonment (mandatory 3 days in jail), a $1,000 fine, or both. In addition, the operator must forfeit his/her driving privileges for 6 months.

The penalties for additional OVI offenses within 6 years of a prior OVI conviction are SUBSTANIALLY greater. For example, a conviction for a 2nd OVI offense within 6 years virtually insures the offender of a stay at the county jail.

NOTE: This offense used to be known as DUI or Driving Under the Influence. The name of the offense changed several years ago when the law was rewritten.

Open Container
It is illegal to possess in public an open container of alcohol. If convicted of this offense, the maximum penalty is a $100.00 fine. Consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle or possession of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle is a fourth degree misdemeanor with maximum penalties of 30 days imprisonment, a $250.00 fine, or both.

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Last updated: Fri. Nov-17-06, 10:58
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