The state of Ohio has a unique approach to suspending driving privileges following an OVI charge. It is actually possible to lose driving privileges immediately after being arrested under certain circumstances. In addition, the drivers license suspension falls under administrative legal procedures, which means the criminal component of the case and the drivers license suspension component are separated. The drivers license suspension issue is adjudicated in a separate hearing that assesses material case facts regarding arrest protocol and potentially defective or unapproved testing equipment. A field sobriety test cannot be used as evidence to convict, but it can be used as a basis for immediate license suspension pending a hearing within 30 days.
First offense DUI
A first-offense OVI/DUI conviction in Ohio typically carries a one-year driving privilege suspension as mandated by the new “Annie’s Law” recently implemented by the state legislature. Other states typically set a first-offense DUI suspension at 30 days. Limited driving allowances are considered after 15 days of “hard time” suspension per the new law. This is generally termed a hardship license that is approved for work, school, attending ADE classes, or meeting doctor appointments.
Multiple offense driving suspension
Ohio gets even more serious with multiple offenders within a 10-year driving “look back” period. Second-offense drunk driving charges increase hard time to 45 days with a third offense increasing hard time suspension to 180 days before a hardship license can be requested from the court. Conviction beyond a third offense can actually result in a lifetime suspension of driving privileges in addition to a felony DUI charge.
One phenomena that is increasing in Ohio is the number of OVI charges stemming from using chemicals other than alcohol while driving a motor vehicle. These cases can be extremely complicated, but the same principles other than a blood-alcohol content measurement will apply. While a field sobriety test is not admissible as conviction evidence, failing a test can establish reasonable suspicion for requesting a blood test in search of probable cause.
Ohio is still an implied consent state, which means that those refusing any chemical testing can have driving privileges suspended immediately. Additionally, the hard time requirements double in most situations before a hardship license can be granted.