If you are arrested and charged with a DUI (OVI in Ohio), your license will be suspended. But what if you need to drive for work or school related reasons? Are there exceptions? And can you get your license back?
Let’s take a look at how license suspension works and how you can get your driving privileges back as quickly as possible.
How an Administrative License Suspension Works
In Ohio, a driver can have his or her license suspended if he or she is arrested and charged with an OVI: this is called an Administrative License Suspension (ALS).
If the driver blows at or over the legal limit of .08, his or her license will be suspended for 90 days (with no driving privileges for the first 15 days). If the driver refused to take the breathalyzer test, his or her license will be automatically suspended for one year (with no driving privileges for the first 30 days). (These numbers apply to first-time offenders: if this is not your first offense, the suspension will be longer.)
The first 15 days (or 30 days, for those who refused a BAC test) of a license suspension is called the “hard suspension.” After the hard suspension, the judge in your case may grant you limited driving privileges—to get to school, to work, to any doctor’s appointments, and so on. The amount of driving privileges you can receive during this time often depends on how strictly the judge interprets the law. If you receive limited driving privileges, you’ll have them for the rest of the suspension.
While you can’t receive driving privileges during the hard suspension, you can ask the court to have the hard suspension “stayed.” This means that the suspension would be put on hold until the conclusion of your case.
How to Get Your License Back
An important fact about an Administrative License Suspension is that it is separate from the DUI charges brought against you. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles—not the courts—suspends your license. This is because Ohio considers driving a privilege, not a right.
When you can get your license back depends on two things: whether or not you refused a BAC test and whether or not you are convicted of an OVI.
If you refused a BAC test…
Ohio law punishes drivers who refuse a BAC test harshly. Drivers who refuse face a suspension four times longer than the suspension given to those who fail the BAC test. In addition, for drivers who refused the test, the administrative license suspension may continue even if the charges are dismissed or the driver is found “not guilty” of an OVI.
If you refused the BAC test, you may also want to consider filing to appeal the administrative license suspension. If the ALS was illegally put in place or if certain legal procedures weren’t followed by law enforcement, the ALS may be void.
You must file an appeal within 30 days of your initial court appearance. If you win your appeal, the ALS will be lifted.
If you did not refuse a BAC test and are not convicted…
If you did not refuse a BAC test, you do not have to worry about the ALS continuing after the conclusion of your case.
Your administrative license suspension will be canceled if you are found not guilty of an OVI or if the charges against you are dropped.
If you did not refuse a BAC test and you are convicted…
If you are found guilty of an OVI, you face all of the penalties, both administrative and judicial, that come with an conviction.
In addition to fines and possible jail time, first-time offenders face a Class Five license suspension of between six months (at minimum) and three years (at maximum). During this suspension, you may be able to get limited driving privileges allowing you to travel to work or school.
After the suspension period is over, you must go to the BMV to get a new license. (Your old one would have been destroyed.) In order to get a new driver’s license, you must show proof of insurance and pay a $475 instatement fee. (If you can’t pay this fee up front, a recent Ohio law change allows you to pay the reinstatement fee through a $50 per month payment plan. In that case, you would need to go to the BMV with proof of insurance and the initial $50 payment.)
When to Talk to an OVI Attorney
The penalties for an OVI are severe, which means it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer about your options. Having an experienced, qualified attorney on your side can help you minimize your charges and penalties.
Casper & Casper is here to help. We’ll to answer your questions, provide you with a strong defense, and advocate for you fiercely in and out of the courtroom. Call the OVI attorneys at Casper & Casper today.
Ohio State Bar Association: Regaining Your Driving Privileges After a Drunk Driving Charge
Ohio State Bar Association: What Is an Administrative License Suspension?
Ohio State Bar Association: My Driver’s License Has Been Suspended. Now What?