Man with marijuana and driving

Can I Get an OVI for Marijuana?

Whether someone is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or anything else, it is never safe to drive. Unlike alcohol or other substances, traces of marijuana can stay in a person’s body for hours and even days after they use the drug. That’s why if you use marijuana it’s important to know the rules of the road when it comes to using the substance and driving.

Two Types Of DUI/OVI Laws In Ohio

Ohio law enforcement officers can charge someone DUI (driving under the influence) or OVI (operating a vehicle impaired) with a focus on impairment and the other “per se.”

Being charged with OVI impaired means that officers believe that the driver was under the influence (meaning a substance was affecting the nervous system and causing impairment) causing that driver to ineffectively operate their vehicle. This type of charge does not only apply to alcohol — it involves all forms of drugs (including over-the-counter medications or prescriptions).

If someone is charged with an OVI “per se,” law enforcement has proof of how much drugs or alcohol were in a driver’s system. The officers’ job with this type of OVI is not to prove that your cognitive ability was impaired but rather that according to the law, the driver had an illegal amount of substances in their body.

For someone to be charged with OVI “per se,” their system must contain over the following legal limits:

  • Alcohol: .08% or higher blood alcohol concentration; for drivers under the age of 21, the blood alcohol concentration can be as low as .02%;
  • Amphetamine: more than 500 nanograms
  • Cocaine: more than 150 nanograms
  • Heroine: more than 2,000 nanograms
  • Marijuana: more than ten nanograms
  • Methamphetamine: more than 500 nanograms
  • Phencyclidine: more than 25 nanograms

Law enforcement can determine how much of each of the above substances are in a person’s system through a breathalyzer (alcohol only), blood test, or urine test.


Metabolites can also be detected in a person’s system and if enough are discovered, it could lead to a driver being charged with OVI.

Metabolites are what is left over after a substance is broken down, or metabolized, in a person’s body and can sometimes be identified as something else. This is how certain substances such as cocaine, marijuana, and nicotine can be detected in a person’s body well after a person has used the substance.

Focusing on marijuana in particular, a driver could be charged with OVI if enough marijuana metabolites are in their system. A driver should have no more than 35 nanograms of marijuana metabolites in their system. Additionally, if a driver is under the influence and admits to law enforcement they had previously smoked marijuana, there can not be more than 15 nanograms of marijuana metabolites in their system. Both of these marijuana metabolites findings can come from a urine test.

Consequences for OVI With Marijuana

Similar to consequences for being caught driving drunk, if you are charged with an OVI because of marijuana you are likely to face hefty consequences.

  • First offense consequences include driver’s license suspension from one to three years; between $375 and $1,075 in fines; and completion of a treatment or education program.
  • Second offense consequences include driver’s license suspension from one to seven years; between $525 and $1,625 in fines; and an addiction assessment.
  • Third offense (within ten years) consequences include driver’s license suspension from two to twelve years; between $850 and $2,750 in fines; and between 30 days to one year in jail.

The above list details OVI misdemeanor consequences. If someone is charged with an OVI as a felony, the penalties are much more serious.

Don’t Face an OVI Charge Alone

At L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC our team has helped thousands facing an OVI charge. Whether you’re in Allen, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Hamilton, Montgomery, or Warren county, we’re here to help you fight the charges you’re facing. Contact our office today to see how we can help you.