License Suspension in Ohio
How Long Is Your License Suspended for DUI?
Getting charged with a DUI/OVI in Ohio is a serious matter. Not only does a conviction lead to expensive fines and a lengthy jail sentence, but it also results in the suspension of your driver’s license.
One of the first questions we are asked by prospective clients is: "How long will my license be suspended for a DUI?" This question assumes something we never assume: that the client will get convicted of a DUI. In fact, many of our clients do not end up with a DUI conviction at all, but are resolved with a reduction or a dismissal.
However, assuming for a moment that the police and prosecutor have a strong case against you:
- A first DUI offense in 6 years: You will lose your license from six months to three years. This is a judicially imposed suspension, which means to some degree it can be negotiated for and argued for a reduction in the length of the suspension. You probably went into this thinking that your suspension would only be 90 days if you took the breath test, but it would be for a year if you did not that. Unfortunately, this is how police officers trick people into taking the breath test: the implied promise of a shorter license suspension.
- A second DUI offense in 6 years: You are looking at a license suspension of one year up to five years. Again, this is a judicially imposed sentence-meaning that it comes from the judge by law, rather than the BMV.
Driving privileges are important to our clients. We understand how important it is to drive for a living-we do it every day as we drive from Canton to Cleveland, and Sandusky to Ashtabula on a regular basis. We know that some clients need to drive to work where others need to drive to work and while at work. Because of this, and because of how hard it is to find good jobs, we fight as hard as possible to make sure our clients are protected.
Why Did I Lose My Physical License After a DUI / OVI Arrest?
If you have been arrested for a DUI / OVI, the police officers likely took your physical license from you. This is because either you refused or you failed the breath test. In some rare cases, they will not take your license. The law in Ohio requires the police officers to issue you a Form 2255 after you have refused the breath test or failed it. This form puts you on notice that you have lost the right to drive (90 days on a first offense failure, 1 year on a refusal). The good news is that a skilled lawyer can help get you back driving before that.
Types of License Suspension in Ohio
In Ohio, there are two types of suspensions:
- An administrative license suspension (ALS)
- Criminal license suspension
The former is administered by the Ohio BMV before your criminal case, while the latter is administered by the courts after you are convicted.
While the ALS can last up to 90 days, a conviction for a first-time DUI offense is punishable by driver’s license suspension of up to three years. Not having your driving privileges for that long can make it difficult to commute to work or school, make important appointments, run household errands, and live your life in general.
Fortunately, Ohio now gives DUI offenders an opportunity to drive after conviction if they install an ignition interlock device (IID) on all vehicles they own and operate. Rather than wait at least a year to regain your driving privileges after a first offense, the minimum suspension period is six months when you get an IID installed in your vehicle.
Administrative License Suspension in Ohio
Few people, let alone most attorneys, understand how driver's license suspensions work after a DUI/OVI arrest.
An administrative license suspension is issued when one of two things happen:
- You blow over one of the two legal limits (0.08 or 0.17); or,
- You refuse to submit to testing.
If this is your first offense and you blew over a 0.08 BAC you have lost your license for 90 days. But be warned: if convicted, you will lose your license for up to 3 full years. If this is your first offense and you refused all tests, you have administratively lost your license for a period of one full year.
However, you can obtain, by a properly filed motion, driving privileges on the administrative license suspension. This means that on a failed test you can be driving for work, education, and medical reasons within 15 days-or 30 days if you refused all tests.
By challenging the suspension as soon as possible, you are not only making a case for driving privileges, but you are forcing the prosecutor to show you were properly stopped, properly removed from your vehicle, and that there was probable cause to arrest you for DUI.
All three are not easy for the prosecutor to do, particularly when they are facing-off against a professional Cleveland DUI license suspension attorney. If this challenge is successful, the suspension is immediately dismissed-and it also sends the message to the prosecutor that the Court feels their case against you is weak. This what we use to negotiate with them in working on a dismissal of the charge.
How We Help Our Clients Get Back Their Driving Privileges
Fortunately, there are a few ways to successfully obtain privileges all with varying degrees of success. The first question our clients need to answer is "How soon do I need privileges?" This might seem like an obvious question with an answer of "Right now!" However, there are a few things to consider.
First, the administrative license suspension for a first time DUI is 15 days-meaning if you are on day 10, it might be better to wait the remaining five days. Second, if we do obtain privileges immediately but you are later convicted, you might still have to do the 15 days anyways. It comes down to making a choice that is best for your situation.
Below is a brief overview of some of the ways we help obtain privileges for our clients:
- Administrative License Suspension Appeal. When you are arrested for a DUI, your license is almost always taken, you are given a BMV form numbered 2255, and the Ohio BMV suspends your license. This form informs you of your suspension and allows the police to administratively, without a formal hearing, revoke your license for 15 days on a first offense. In order to obtain privileges within this period of time, you must file a formal appeal within 5 days of your arrest. If your appeal is successful, you will be immediately entitled to drive without restrictions; however, if not, you might have to wait the 15 days.
- Stay of the Administrative License Suspension. This is closely related to the appeal and is sometimes used by a judge to see how serious a person is about driving, without depriving the court of the ability to suspend a license while the case is going on. In the cases where a suspension is stayed this means that the suspension might very well come back into full force and effect if you are convicted-meaning that you will have to still serve the suspension. Some of our clients elect to go this route because they can better plan for a two week period where they will not be able to drive later in time, rather than right now.
- Privileges After 15 Days. If after consulting with our client we determine they should wait the 15 day period, we file the appropriate paperwork (including proof of insurance and employment) with the court on our client's behalf. Typically, if granted these privileges begin right away and will allow our clients to drive for work, education, treatment, family matters, and medical reasons.
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