Ohio has changed the law on Driving Under Suspension multiple times in the recent past. The first change separated the DUS law into a number of different sections with different penalties. The most recent change took place because of jail overcrowding and the fact that many judges were sentencing DUS offenders to stiff jail sentences.
Most Driving Under Suspension offenses are still First Degree Misdemeanors carrying up to six months in jail, but some now carry the potential for a whopping 500 hours of Community Work Service instead.
Penalties for Driving Under Suspension include jail time, fines, vehicle immobilization or forfeiture, impoundment of license plates, community work service and additional suspension time. Most DUS charges carry some form of mandatory penalty, depending on which DUS law applies to your case. This often includes jail.
The easiest way to determine the penalty range associated with your particular DUS charge is to look at the traffic ticket. It will have an Ohio Revised Code section number near the middle of the ticket. This should be a number in the 4500 range, with four digits preceding the decimal point, such as Ohio Revised Code section 4511.10 or something close to that (unless you are charged with a municipal ordinance violation instead.
See a detailed chart on Ohio DUS Penalties by Judge Jennifer P. Weiler, from Garfield Heights Municipal Court. You can plug in your O.R.C. number and see the exact penalty range, including any mandatory DUS provision that would apply.
Often people are pulled over and are unaware that their driver’s license is suspended. Ohio DUS law does not require that you be personally notified when your driver’s license is suspended. It simply requires mailing a notice to the last known address you supplied to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. When a person changes addresses, Ohio law requires that they notify the Ohio BMV.
Despite public perception, police officers can, under certain circumstances, pull you over for no other reason than the fact that you are under suspension. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can help you determine whether or not the traffic stop in your DUS case was illegal.
Limited driving privileges may or may not be granted in your DUS case, depending on the nature of the offense, prior offenses, the court you are in and the judge assigned to your case. It is almost always helpful to retain a criminal defense attorney to assist you with DUS problems.
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