Facing a DUI (called an OVI, for “Operating a Vehicle under the Influence” in Ohio) is a scary, stressful experience.
We know that people who are facing OVI or related charges have questions, and we’re here to answer them. For example, we’ve answered questions involving the Breathalyzer, field sobriety tests, sobriety checkpoints, and the penalties for multiple offenses. Today, we’re answering another common DUI-related question: how does an OVI affect your driving privileges and record?
First, let’s talk about one key fact. There are two separate processes that begin when you are arrested and charged with operating a vehicle under the influence: criminal proceedings and administrative proceedings.
Most people are at least somewhat familiar with (the basics of) criminal proceedings: you are charged with a crime, you have the right to an attorney, you may be offered a plea deal or you may go to trial, you’re found guilty or not guilty, etc.
However, many don’t know that there are administrative proceedings as well; the court isn’t the only entity involved in an OVI case. In fact, if you have been arrested and charged with drunk driving, it’s actually the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) that will take away your license, by issuing an “administrative license suspension” (ALS).
An ALS can be imposed immediately after you are arrested. For example, if you are pulled over and fail the Breathalyzer test by blowing at or over the legal limit (.08), your license will be suspended for 90 days (with no driving privileges for the first 15 days). If you refuse to take the Breathalyzer test, your license will be automatically suspended for one year (with no driving privileges for the first 30 days). (Note that these numbers apply to first-time offenders: if this is not your first offense, the suspension will be longer.)
At this point, you may be wondering how the BMV can take away your license as soon as you are arrested: don’t you get to “have your day in court,” so to speak?
In fact, that’s not the case. This is because the government considers driving a privilege, and not a right—and because of this, the BMV does not have to wait until you are convicted to suspend your license. Having failed or refused a Breathalyzer is enough.
If you are not convicted, or if the charges against you are dropped, the ALS will be canceled—but only if you did not refuse to take the Breathalyzer test. Under Ohio law, refusing to take the Breathalyzer is a crime in and of itself, and the penalty is a one-year administrative license suspension (for first-time offenders).
Court License Suspension
As we mentioned above, the ALS is separate from the criminal charges you face. If you are convicted of an OVI—in addition to fines and possible jail time—the penalty is a court-imposed license suspension from six months (at minimum) to three years (at maximum). If this is not your only OVI conviction within the past ten years, the length of suspension increases:
• Second-time offenders: one year (minimum) to seven years (maximum)
• Third-time offenders: two years (minimum) to twelve years (maximum)
After your suspension is completed, you will be required to get a new license at the BMV. To do so, you will have to pay a $475 reinstatement fee and show proof of car insurance.
Your Driving Record and “Points”
In Ohio, there is a point system for traffic violations. This system is designed to penalize drivers who perform traffic violations.
Some traffic violations—including speeding, reckless driving, failing to stop at a stop sign or red light, leaving the scene of an accident, or driving under the influence—will result in points being added to your license. Points accumulate for two years. If you accumulate 12 or more points within a two-year period, the BMV may suspend your license for six months.
Driving under the influence results in six points being added to your license. If an OVI conviction will put your total at or above 12 points, this means that you face another license suspension in addition to an OVI administrative license suspension and court-imposed license suspension. If, however, an OVI conviction will get you uncomfortably close to 12 points, you may consider attending a remedial driving course; completing this course removes two points from your license.
Facing an OVI? We Can Help
If you’re facing OVI charges, it helps to have somewhere to turn. The experienced OVI attorneys at Casper & Casper are here to help you: we’ll answer your questions, help you determine your options, and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
For help resolving an ALS (and all of the other penalties that come with an OVI conviction), call us today to schedule your free consultation. We have offices conveniently located in Cincinnati, Hamilton, Dayton, and Middletown.