If you are arrested for OVI, DUI or DWI in Ohio, you most likely are facing an Administrative License Suspension. This is an immediate suspension of your driver’s license on the spot by the arresting officer that results from either testing over the legal limit for alcohol or drugs, or having been marked as a refusal by the officer.
When this type of suspension occurs the police officer will serve you with a copy of the BMV-2255 Form. If your operator’s license is suspended by the officer, then the checkbox in Section B (in the upper left portion of the form) where it says “Was placed under an Administrative License Suspension (R.C. 4511.191)” will be marked. For a positive test result, your driver’s license will be suspended for a period ranging from 90 days to 5 years. If you are marked as having refused the test, your driver’s license will be suspended for a period ranging from 1 to 5 years. If you submitted to a test and you were under the legal limit, then the officer should not have taken your license.
If the officer did not ask you to take a test, then Ohio Law permits the officer to turn your license over to the court for disposition at your initial appearance (Arraignment). If you are convicted of the OVI, DUI or DWI charge, the mandatory driver’s license suspension may be much longer than the initial Administrative License Suspension.
All Administrative License Suspensions in Ohio carry a “hard time” waiting period during which you are not allowed to drive for ANY reason. Depending on your circumstances and your past record, this “hard time” waiting period will be for at least 15 days if you took the test, or at least 30 days if the officer marked it as a refusal. After the “hard time” waiting period you may be eligible for limited driving privileges if the judge will allow them.
Although no judge can grant you limited driving privileges before the “hard time” suspension period is over, some judges in rare circumstances may consider a “stay” of the Administrative License Suspension, effectively putting it on hold until the final disposition of the OVI, DUI or DWI charge. This would allow you to drive while the suspension is on hold (stayed). However, if you are eventually convicted of, or plead to the charge, the judge must then impose the full license suspension, including any “hard time”, with credit for time that occurred before the stay. Usually, a lawyer is needed to increase your chances of convincing a judge to issue a stay of an A.L.S.
Once the “hard time” period is over, you are eligible for Limited Driving Privileges. Under Ohio law, a judge has broad discretion in determining whether or not to grant Limited Driving Privileges. However, most judges will only grant such driving privileges for occupational, educational, medical or dental purposes (and for attending court and court-ordered treatment or counseling). Most courts require this request to be made in person at the court by the person requesting the privileges, and on a specified written form mandated by the court. Some courts, such as Stow Municipal Court, only accept such requests on certain days and during restricted times.
Requests for Limited Driving Privileges must be made at the clerk’s office in the court where the charge has been filed. You will need proof of current insurance coverage listing your name as well as detailed documentation for each type of driving privilege you are seeking. This includes exact dates, times and addresses. Courts may also require written documentation of class schedules, vocational training, medical and dental appointments. You will be denied privileges for any items you cannot document. There is also a small fee ($30-$35) for most driving letters. In some courts, your driving privilege letter may expire and need to be renewed at each court appearance.
Additionally, the court may require you to have Restricted Plates (yellow and red) on any vehicle you drive before allowing you to have Limited Driving Privileges. These apply to all OVI, DUI and DWI offenses except first offense low end and second offense low-end charges. All high-end charges and all refusal charges mandate Restricted Plates. If required, the titled owner of any vehicle used for privileges would have to turn in the regular license plates for the Restricted Plates by first obtaining the required form from the clerk’s office at the court and then presenting it at a BMV office to swap the regular plates for the Restricted Plates, and then returning to the clerks’ office with documentation.
For information on obtaining driving privileges in Portage and Summit County courts, see the website of the court where your case is being handled.
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