A Quick Look at Driver’s License Suspensions in Ohio

By: Peter R. Certo, Jr. Attorney at Law

There are so many different kinds of license suspensions it would probably take an accountant weeks to calculate them. There are suspensions for moving violations, OVI suspensions, Financial Responsibility Act (FRA) suspensions, insurance suspensions, Administrative License suspensions (ALS), 12 point suspensions, medical suspensions, drug abuse suspensions, reinstatement fee suspensions, failure to pay child support, driving under suspension suspensions, etc. In fact, you can wind up with several suspensions all out of the same traffic violation. If a person is not careful it is easy to mistakenly believe that a suspension is over, but, still be under suspension.

The main confusion is that suspensions come from two different places, one is the judge in a local court (court suspension) and the other is the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV Suspension). Let's say a judge gives you a 90 day suspension. Most citizens would believe they could drive on the 91st day. Makes sense, doesn't it? Sure, but you could be wrong. At the end of the 90 days you need to check with the BMV to make sure all other requirements have been fulfilled. If the BMV does not have what they require, you are still under suspension. It might be a reinstatement fee, proof of insurance, remedial driving class or some other requirement. Even seasoned judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys can be confused reading someone's BMV transcript. In fact, almost no lawyer or judge can effectively remember all the different suspensions and penalties. They all have complex charts that are several pages long and review those charts before disposing a case.

The other major problem is that most people do not notify the BMV of changes of address. If the BMV flags your license to request proof of insurance, the only responsibility they have is to send the notice to your last known address. If it happens to be an address you moved from two years ago, you're in trouble. The suspension goes into effect though you never receive the notice and actually had valid insurance. Then someday, when you're taking your kids to school and you drive a little too fast because you're running late, you get stopped and cited with DUS. Lack of notice is no defense.

Driving under suspension is a very serious traffic offense and should not be taken lightly. You can be fined up to $1,000 and be incarcerated for 180 days. You can also receive 6 points on your license and get up to an additional year of suspension.

Most driving under suspension cases arise from too many moving violations, failure to pay fines (even from other states), failure to pay reinstatement fees, failure to maintain insurance, and OVIs.

If you fall into one of the above categories you should get some competent legal advice as soon as possible.