Driving Privileges During an Ohio DUI Suspension

Article By Jeremiah Denslow | September 3, 2016

Ohio drivers with DUI cases almost always face a driver’s license suspension. Sometimes the suspension starts at the commencement of the case and other times it doesn’t start until the conclusion of the case. The DUI suspension begins at the commencement of the case if the suspected DUI driver refuses to take a breath test or takes the breath test and fails. In this situation, the suspension begins immediately on the night of the incident before the suspect leaves the police station or is released from jail. In other cases, the DUI suspension does not start until the conclusion of the case. That is, when the Ohio DUI defendant is convicted of a DUI and the court imposes the mandatory suspension as part of the final sentence.

In either scenario, the Ohio Revised Code permits courts to grant limited driving privileges for the driver under a DUI suspension. In granting the privileges, the court must specify the purposes, times and places of the privileges and may impose any other reasonable conditions on the person’s driving a motor vehicle. The driving privileges can be for any of the following purposes: (1) Occupational; (2) Educational; (3) Vocational; (4) Medical; (5) Taking a driver’s examination; (6) Taking a commercial driver’s license examination; and (7) Attending court-ordered treatment. Typically, I see driving privileges granted for a DUI defendant to drive to/from work, attend college classes or attend doctor’s appointments. In addition, if the court sentences a DUI defendant to alcohol or drug treatment, it’s very common for the court to grant driving privileges for that purpose as well.

Unfortunately, DUI drivers aren’t immediately eligible for driving privileges when they are put on suspension. That is, the Ohio Revised Code requires that they serve a portion of their suspension without driving privileges. This period of the DUI suspension is typically called the “hard time.” When the driver gets a DUI suspension on the night of the DUI incident because of a failed breath test, the period of hard time during which the defendant cannot get privileges is fifteen days. If the driver has a prior DUI within the past six years, the hard time is forty-five days; two prior DUIs within six years, it’s a 180-day hard time suspension; and if the defendant has three or more prior DUIs within six years, he faces three years of hard time. When the DUI driver refuses to take the test altogether, the hard time of the suspension is longer. For a first DUI offense, there is a thirty day hard-time suspension; for a second DUI offense in six years, ninety-days hard time; for a third DUI in six years, one-year hard time; for a fourth or more in six years, three years of hard time.

If the Ohio DUI driver is able to avoid the license suspension on the front end of the case, but still gets a DUI suspension at the time of sentencing, he faces similar hard time restrictions on privileges. If the driver is convicted of a first DUI, the hard time of the suspension is fifteen days; for a second DUI in six years, the hard time is forty-five days; for a third DUI in six years, the hard time is 180-days; if the DUI defendant has three prior DUIs in six years or is convicted of a first or second felony DUI, the hard time is three years. Keep in mind, the court may also impose other restrictions on a defendant who is driving on privileges while under a DUI license suspension. Sometimes, the court will order special DUI plates to be installed on a DUI driver’s vehicle. Other times, the court will install an ignition interlock device on the driver’s car that requires the driver to submit a breath sample into a mechanical device before the car will start. An ignition interlock device can be expensive, however, it’s a good safety mechanism that ensures a DUI driver with privileges does not drive while under the influence of alcohol.

No Ohio DUI arrest is perfect. Most DUI investigations include a number of witnesses, including police officers and the personnel who collect, store and test chemical samples.  As case law demonstrates time and time again, witnesses are human and they make mistakes. Further, most Ohio DUI investigations include a breath testing device or other testing equipment that is not always maintained according to current Ohio DUI regulations. There are over 1 million laws in the United States. I am a top Ohio DUI/OVI defense lawyer who devotes his practice to ONE. Because of my experience and concentrated focus, I know the Ohio DUI/OVI laws better than most attorneys in the state. I am passionate about Ohio DUI/OVI defense and I get results, however, I only accept a limited number of clients. If you’re serious about your case and want a top Ohio DUI/OVI lawyer on your team, call me.