It depends. When you are arrested for suspicion of OVI in Ohio you will most likely be asked to take a chemical test by providing the police with a blood, breath, or urine sample. If the test result takes time to analyze like with blood and urine you will not be suspended immediately. The officer might contact you after a test result over the legal limit comes back from the lab, but most times they don’t bother.

If you test under the legal limit they should not suspend you. If they do, contact your lawyer and this can be appealed at the first appearance or within 30 days of the arraignment. If you take a test and are over the legal limit they will suspend your privileges to drive in Ohio. If you have an out of state license you will still be able to drive outside of Ohio. Ohio only has the right to suspend your privilege to drive in Ohio. If you are an Ohio license holder you will be suspended everywhere. If you are an out of state driver you should consult with a DUI or OVI lawyer in the state where your license was issued about what to expect from your home state. If they suspend you the driving letter in Ohio will not be enough. You will need to petition your home state for privileges as well.

If you are living in Ohio and have an out of state license still you will need to talk to your lawyer. Sometimes we can get the court to stay or terminate the ALS to allow you to test for an Ohio license. This will keep you from having to deal with your old home state and all the nasty consequences they can bestow on you if you get a DUI in Ohio.

Make sure your current home address is updated with the Ohio BMV. They will send you a written notice in the mail, but they do not pay premium postage so it will not be forwarded. You can also check your driving status online at the BMV website. Go to online services and clink on view an unofficial copy of your driving record. You can use the free one that looks back two years. They redirect you to a 3rd party site now. Remember it might take a few weeks for them to get the notice of suspension from the officer and update their records. I tell my clients who are first offender’s with a test over the limit that they should not pay the reinstatement fee on the 90 days ALS unless the case takes longer than 90 days. The ALS can oftentimes be dismissed for a plea. If the case takes more than 90 days, your driving letter will expire and will no longer be effective as your license status will go from suspended with limited privileges to failure to reinstate. You can reinstate by paying $475 to the BMV and showing proof of auto insurance. After Then you can get your plastic license back and drive unrestricted if you don’t have any other problems with your license. Courts will want to see that the vehicle you were driving at the time was insured and that your name appears on auto insurance currently before they grant privileges.

When the police give you an ALS your plastic license will be sent to the BMV as well as notice of the suspension. The plastic license will be destroyed. Once you have served all suspension times and reinstate your license with the Ohio BMV you will be issued a new license. For the time being, your lawyer will ask the court for a modification of your suspension to grant driving privileges.

The waiting period before a court gets jurisdiction to modify an administrative license suspension or ALS depends on the number of prior convictions or refusals you have. It is known as the “Hard Suspension” time. The following table explains when you can expect.

Refusal of Chemical Test

No. of Refusals or Prior Offenses in 6 yearsLength of ALSHard Suspension Time
11 year30 days
22 years90 days
33 years1 year
45 years3 years
No. of Refusals or Prior Offenses in 6 yearsLength of ALSHard Suspension Time
190 Days15 days
21 year45 days
32 years180 days
43 years3 years

The court does not have to give any driving privileges. There is no right to them. If granted the court can limit where and when you can drive. The court can also order you to have a breath testing device installed in your car and / or restricted license plates before allowing you to drive. I have also seen some courts put people with multiple priors on an alcohol ankle monitor as a condition of bond.

ORC Section 4510.021

Ohio Revised Code or ORC as we call it says in section 4510.021 what a court can grant you in the way of a driving letter. This statute was recently modified in September of 2016 to allow the court discretion to grant whatever they think is appropriate. It used to be limited to just to the following as long as the court would, “specify the purposes, times, and places of the privileges and may impose any other reasonable conditions on the person’s driving of a motor vehicle.” The privileges could be for any of the following:

  1. Occupational, educational, vocational, or medical purposes;
  2. Taking the driver’s or commercial driver’s license examination;
  3. Attending court-ordered treatment;
  4. Any other purpose the court determines to be appropriate. [eff. 9/13/2016.]

Number 4 fixes one of my biggest criticisms of the former statute. It would not allow the court to grant driving privileges for a person to go to court, the grocery store, get gas, take their children to after school activities, take children to the bus stop, take a parent or other care recipient to the doctor, go to church, meet with probation or pretrial services if required, etc.