Q: Why might my Ohio driver’s license be suspended?
A: Your Ohio driver’s license might be suspended for one of the reasons listed below.
• A judge ordered the suspension as a penalty for an offense of which you were convicted. Many offenses require a suspension, such as drug offenses, OVI, hit-skip and/or “fleeing and eluding.”
• The Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) ordered the suspension because you did not show proof of current motor vehicle insurance or a bond after you were stopped for a traffic offense or you were randomly selected by the BMV to show such proof. This “non-compliance suspension” is imposed under Ohio’s Financial Responsibility Act.
• The BMV ordered the suspension because you accumulated 12 points on your driving record in a two-year period. A court may impose points for various traffic offenses, including OVI, some speeding offenses and all other moving violations. Courts must impose two points for minor traffic offenses, and six points for the most serious traffic offenses, such as OVI.
• The BMV ordered the suspension because you caused an accident (damage of $400 or more) while you were not insured and the other party reported it to the BMV. This is called a “security suspension.”
• The BMV ordered the suspension after you were arrested for OVI and you refused to submit to a chemical test or you tested over the legal limit for alcohol (.08) or drugs. This is called an “administrative license suspension” (ALS).
Q: What happens if I am convicted of the offense of “operating a vehicle under suspension”?
A: If you are stopped and the officer determines you were driving under a license suspension, you might be charged with that offense. If you are convicted of “driving under suspension” (DUS), the penalties vary depending on what type of suspension you were serving. The most serious of these offenses are driving under an OVI suspension and driving under a 12-point suspension, which can result in penalties of six points, up to six months in jail, an additional license suspension, fines and probation.
Q: If my license has been suspended, how can I get it back?
The BMV provides information about your license status and reinstatement requirements at: www.bmv.ohio.gov/suspension_reinstatement.stm
. You can also visit an Ohio BMV office and ask for a printout of your license status. To reinstate your license, you may, for example, have to do one or more of the following: pay a reinstatement fee, take a driver’s exam or buy a “high risk” auto insurance policy and file proof of that insurance with the BMV.
Q: My license is suspended but I need to drive for work. Can I get limited driving privileges while I am under suspension?
A: If a judge suspends your license because you were convicted of an offense that provides for a suspension, you can usually request limited driving privileges (LDPs) during the suspension. Limited driving privileges are generally given for work, medical, educational and/or vocational purposes. If you were suspended because of an OVI conviction, you must wait until you have been under a suspension for a certain period of time (called “hard time”) until you are eligible for privileges.
If the BMV has suspended your license because you have 12 points or because you did not show proof of insurance after a traffic stop or when randomly selected, you can petition a court for LDPs during the suspension. A court can only grant LDPs during a BMV suspension if the law specifically authorizes this.
Q: What if I can’t afford the fees to reinstate my license?
A: Under a new Ohio law, you may be eligible to set up a payment plan with the BMV for license reinstatement if you are unable to pay your reinstatement fees and that is the only impediment to having a valid license. This new law would allow you to have a valid license while making reinstatement payments. To be eligible, you must:
• owe at least $150 in reinstatement fees;
• meet all other reinstatement requirements except for the payment of fees;
• show current proof of insurance;
• not have any pending suspensions;
• not be currently on a court-ordered fee payment plan;
• make an initial $50 payment, which is applied to the fees you owe whether your application is approved or denied.
If you are approved for the payment plan, you must pay at least $50 per month toward your fees.
This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was prepared by attorneys Bridget Purdue Riddell and Doug Riddell of Riddell Law LLC.