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Ohio Alcohol Laws

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State stores sell spirits in Ohio rather than retailers. However, beer and table wine can be purchased in retail stores. Local ordinances mandate when alcohol may be sold or served.

Legal Age for Drinking/Serving Alcohol

As in all states, you must be 21 to consume alcohol. You must also be 21 years of age to work as a bartender. However, an individual can work as a server in a restaurant that sells alcohol at age 19, and 18 is the minimum age to work in a liquor store or transport alcohol.

Open Container Laws

There is an open container law in Ohio that forbids any previously opened bottles of alcohol from being carried in a vehicle where drivers or passengers have access. The bottles must be carried in the trunk of the car.

BAC Limits

If a driver is chemically tested (breath, blood, or urine) by a police officer and found to have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or more, the driver is considered to be ‘per se intoxicated.’ This means that the test results are the only evidence required by the courts to convict a driver of driving under the influence (DUI).

Harsher penalties exist for drivers who exceed the .08 percent maximum legal BAC by .17 percent or more.

Drivers under the age of 21 are discouraged from drinking and driving by ‘zero tolerance laws.’ These laws punish underage drivers more harshly than adults who drink and drive. In Ohio, an underage driver with a BAC of .02 percent or more is subject to such enhanced penalties.


A driver suspected of driving under the influence must comply with breath, blood, or urine testing under ‘implied consent laws.’ Refusing to take the tests carries the penalty of mandatory driver’s license suspension for up to a year.

Removal of the driver’s license by the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) results in six months for the first DUI conviction and one year’s suspension for the second and third offenses.

Free Online DUI Case EvaluationWith the fourth DUI offense in Ohio, the courts can order that a defendant’s car be confiscated either permanently or temporarily. The courts can order that an ignition interlock system be installed in a convicted driver’s vehicle, and, with the third DUI conviction, the Ohio courts can order treatment or assessment for alcohol abuse.

DUI is considered a felony in Ohio after the third conviction.