After an arrest for DUI, the BMV often imposes an Ohio Administrative License Suspension. And obviously, one of the most important issues and immediate need for anyone arrested for DUI is to obtain driving privileges for work, school, and medical appointments… and that’s where a skilled attorney can help with your Drivers License Suspensions.
The law allows the court to grant what are called “limited driving privileges” while the DUI case is pending. Limited driving privileges are also available in the event there is a DUI conviction. If there is a conviction, the court is required to impose a driving suspension.
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The Court Has Discretion to Grant Limited Driving Privileges
Limited driving privileges may be granted for any purpose at the court’s discretion. The court cannot amend the suspension to grant a letter to drive until the statutory waiting period has run. The court can impose limitations on days, hours, require a breath testing device in your car, require restricted license plates, or narrowly tailor the letter for work purposes only. This is a change in the law.
Prior to September 2016, courts could only grant limited privileges for one of the enumerated purposes:
- 1) Educational
- 2) Occupational
- 3) Medical and
- 4) Vocational.
Since ORC 4510.021 was amended to add subsection (A)(4), the court now has the authority to extend limited privileges for, “any other purpose the court determines to be appropriate”.
Pre-trial limited driving privileges are typically requested at the arraignment or at the first pre-trial. Some courts require a separate hearing after a written motion is filed; some will accept an oral motion and do not require a separate filing fee.
Some judges and magistrates are liberal in granting privileges, some are not. The various courts also have different policies regarding privileges. Some courts will not grant any driving privileges, even though the law allows them, for clients who have refused a chemical test or have taken the test and the alleged results fall above a .169.
Because the limited driving privileges are discretionary, the judge is not required to grant them, even if the person would otherwise be eligible for them. One of the most important aspects of these privileges is that no court will grant them if our client cannot prove auto insurance was in effect on the date of their arrest AND at the time they are asking for limited privileges.
Each of our clients is asked to provide our office with a copy of their auto insurance card or declarations page. It’s also important to remember that the policy has to specifically name the client. If the client is a dependent living at home with their parents, the insurance must list them as a covered driver.
Hamilton County Limited Driving Privileges
Hamilton County Municipal Court is unique in that it requires the client to take their limited driving privilege letter to the Ohio BMV at 10948 Hamilton Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45231. The overwhelming majority of all other local courts send the form to the BMV for you.
In either case, you will receive a letter to drive. This is an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper that lists your home address, employer (or school/doctor), and the days and hours of employment. In some instances, our client’s schedules vary from week to week.
For example a server in a restaurant may not know what shift they will be working more than a week or so ahead of time. In cases like that, it would be impractical to come back to court each week to have the Judge modify the driving privileges.
In that circumstance, the court’s driving letter will state that the person’s days and hours vary, and that they must carry a current work schedule with them whenever they are driving. Failure to do that, or driving outside the scope of the privileges, could result in being arrested for driving under suspension. Driving under Suspension (DUS) is a very serious offense that carries up to 6-months in jail, up to a $1,000.00 fine, and requires an impound of the vehicle and its license plates.
The law sets the parameters in which the judge may grant pre-trial limited driving privileges. A person is eligible for limited privileges only if certain requirements are met. The Judge must consider two main factors.
First, is this a refusal or a test over? Second, how many prior refusals or convictions does the person have?
For a first offense, if the client took the breath test and tested over the limit, there is a hard suspension of 15 days. If there was a refusal, the hard suspension is 30 days. The hard suspension is the time period that the court may not grant any limited privileges. It’s kind of like a waiting period for the beginning of the driving privileges. There is no leeway here. The court simply cannot shorten the required hard suspension time period.
On a second refusal in a six-year period, the hard suspension is 90 days. For a third refusal in a six-year period, the hard suspension is 1 year.
For a second failed chemical test in six years, the hard suspension is 30 days. A third failure in six years requires a 180-day hard suspension.
The court has the option to order an ignition interlock device, restricted (yellow and orange) license plates, or both as a condition of granting limited driving privileges. On almost all cases involving a second offense, and most cases involving a high tier breath test, the court will require the ignition interlock device.
An ignition interlock is a type of breath test machine that is installed in a car. The device disables the car’s ignition until a breath sample is analyzed and shown to contain no alcohol. The interlock will randomly request an additional breath test(s) during the operation of the vehicle.
Interlock installation prices vary depending on the car it is being installed into. There are also monthly monitoring fees – they typically range from $45-$75 per month.
If an interlock device is required, the person has to obtain an Interlock License from the BMV, make an appointment with the probation department, and then schedule an installation appointment.
Because the police officer is required to confiscate a person’s driver’s license that refuses a chemical test or takes the test and is over the legal limit, we are often asked what our client is supposed to use for identification.
Generally, we have two suggestions. If a person has a passport, that will suffice for identification purposes in almost all situations. The other option is to obtain a temporary state id.
It is important to obtain a TEMPORARY state id as opposed to a regular state id. Obtaining a regular state id will cancel a person’s driver’s license which will make it impossible to obtain limited driving privileges and will also require the person to re-test (both written and driving test) at the end of any suspension imposed in the DUI case.
It generally takes up to two weeks for the BMV to be notified of the ALS suspension. This is important because if you get an ID card before the BMV has notice of the suspension, it will not be a temporary state ID. When obtaining a state ID, you will need both your social security card and birth certificate or other forms of identification acceptable to the BMV.
Typically they are referred to as the primary and secondary documents. If you are required to obtain an interlock license, this will act as your identification and no state ID is necessary.
The primary document must contain the full name and date of birth and must be verifiable. The Social Security Number must appear on either the primary document or the secondary document. The name on the documents must match the person’s current name unless a change of name is established by a court order, Marriage Certificate, Marriage License or Divorce Decree. The court order may be a primary or secondary document. Only original documents or a photocopy bearing an original certification by the issuing authority is acceptable. Uncertified copies or copies of certified documents are not acceptable unless otherwise noted. Failure to provide two (2) acceptable documents to prove both date of birth and Social Security Number, if ever assigned, shall result in the denial of the application.
- The primary document must contain the full name and date of birth and must be verifiable.
- Social Security Number (if one has ever been assigned) must be on either the primary or secondary
- Name on documents must match the person’s current name unless a change of name is established by court order, marriage certificate or marriage license.
- A copy bearing an original certification by the issuing authority is acceptable.
- Uncertified copies of certified documents are unacceptable.
- Failure to provide two acceptable documents shall result in the denial of the application.
The Ohio BMV provides a list of acceptable documents or you can download one from our sites here.