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10 Laws You Should Know If You're in Ohio

By Mark Wilson, Esq. on October 25, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Everyone from Ohio knows that "toward the lake" means north, and "toward the river" means south. In Ohio, when someone asks you how far away something is, you respond in minutes, not miles ("it's about 15 minutes from here"), and the University of Michigan is your mortal enemy.

When visiting the Buckeye State, if there's one thing you have to know, it's that candy buckeyes are delicious and real buckeyes are poisonous. Oh, and don't forget to keep these 10 laws in mind too:

  1. DUI threshold. First of all, it's called "OVI" in Ohio (which stands for Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence), and it encompasses both drugs and alcohol. Second, the limit is 0.08 percent of any intoxicant in your bloodstream, not just alcohol.
  2. Using your cell phone while driving. Drivers under 18 can't use a cell phone at all while driving, and while no driver of any age can text while driving, the law doesn't forbid drivers over 18 from talking on the phone while driving.
  3. Getting a divorce. Ohio is a "fault" divorce state, meaning you have to give a reason why you want a divorce. These reasons can include adultery, habitual drunkenness, and extreme cruelty. There is a "no-fault" option too, which Ohio calls a dissolution.
  4. Marital property division. Ohio isn't technically a community property state, but it might as well be. Without an agreement like a prenup in place, the law generally divides property into "marital property" and "separate property" and provides for an equal split of marital property upon divorce.
  5. Injuries: Who's at fault? Ohio is a modified comparative fault state, meaning that you can recover as long as you weren't more negligent than the person who caused your injuries.
  6. Gambling. Ohio began allowing casinos outside of Indian reservations only in 2012; there are now several casinos operating in the state's major cities. Charities can host bingo games, and horseracing is allowed, but bookmaking (betting on events) is not.
  7. Will requirements. Anyone 18 or older, and of sound mind, can make a will in Ohio. Wills can be holographic (hand-written) or typewritten, but either way, they have to be signed in the presence of two witnesses.
  8. Gun laws. You can carry a concealed weapon in Ohio, subject to licensing requirements. Concealed carry permits are issued by the sheriff of each county. Also keep in mind that there are several places you can't bring a concealed weapon, including courts, police stations, schools, and churches.
  9. Statute of limitations. Ohio has different statutes of limitations -- that is, the time you have to file a lawsuit -- depending on the type of lawsuit. For example, if you want to sue on a written contract, you have 15 years. For personal injury, you have two years.
  10. Marijuana. It's illegal to possess marijuana in Ohio, and there's no law allowing medical marijuana. Possession of less than 3.5 ounces of marijuana is a "minor misdemeanor" that carries no jail time, but can be punishable by a $150 fine and a possible driver's license suspension.

If you want to learn more about what you can and can't do in Ohio, visit FindLaw's section on Ohio laws.

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