Many Ohio residents travel to Michigan for business or pleasure. While in Michigan they are sometimes arrested for DUI. A frequent question for these Ohio drivers looking at a Michigan DUI conviction is “what will happen to my Ohio driver license? Like so many other issues involved with a Michigan DUI conviction, this is not such an easy question to answer. What follows are many issues and answers, and top Ohio DUI lawyer Tim Huey assisted in explaining Ohio DUI law.
Michigan’s Driver License Sanctions
The state of Michigan can only impose driver license sanctions applicable to your privilege to drive in Michigan. Accordingly, Michigan DUI law provides that for a Michigan DUI first offense the Michigan driver license sanction would be either a 180 day suspension (for an OWI/DUI/OUIL/UBAL “intoxicated” driving) or a 90 day suspension (for an OWVI – “impaired” driving).
A Michigan intoxicated driving conviction will cause a “hard” 30 day suspension, after which you would be eligible in Michigan for a restricted license after the first 30 days. With a Michigan conviction for impaired driving you will have a restricted license the whole time.
A Michigan “super drunk” conviction carries with it a 365 days suspension, with no driving for the first 45 days, followed by a 320 day restricted license with an ignition interlock device.
Even as an Ohio resident you will still be required to pay Michigan’s driver responsibility fee. You will receive by mail a separate demand for payment of the driver responsibility fee (DRF), which is essentially a “tax” that is collected by the Secretary of State. The DRF for an impaired driving is $500.00 per year for two years, and for intoxicate driver it is $1,000.00 per year for two years.
The Similarity of Michigan DUI Law?
The first question or issue your lawyer will need to answer is whether the law that supports your Michigan DUI conviction is similar to the laws in your home state. According to a top Ohio DUI lawyer Tim Huey, under Ohio law[i], any DUI conviction from another state that is substantially equivalent to an Ohio OVI [ii] will count as an Ohio prior offense.
Mr. Huey indicates that there has not been a great deal of litigation on the “same or similar” language in this statute. Pursuing an appeal on this issue can be expensive but may be worthwhile because success means no Ohio driver license sanctions. For example, if client was convicted of “physical control” he may wish to consider an administrative appeal as Ohio has separate statutes for OVI and Physical Control.
If Michigan law is found to be “substantially similar” to Ohio law the way it will work is this: after you plead guilty or are found guilty of a Michigan DUI, the court clerk will advise the Michigan Secretary of State that there’s been a conviction. Michigan will then send you a letter to your address of record in Ohio indicating a specific driver license sanction.
Ohio Will Receive Notice of Michigan DUI Conviction
Ohio is seemingly a member of all compacts and, moreover, will act on any notice of DUI conviction sent to it by another state or to a national registry, so at some point in time Ohio will learn of the conviction in Michigan. Determining exactly when involves nothing more than speculation. Nevertheless, it’s fair to say that at some point after the client you are convicted of a Michigan DUI (and sometimes long after); the Registrar of the Ohio BMV will notify you that a suspension will be imposed 21 days after the mailing of the letter. This letter will be sent by ordinary mail to the address on your Ohio license.
Length of Ohio Driver License Sanction
The length of the suspension is always a “Class B-4 suspension”[iii] which is a six month suspension. This is true regardless of whether your Michigan DUI conviction is a 1st offense or subsequent offense (2nd, 3rd super drunk, etc).
It is sometimes possible for the suspension to end prior to the six month period. This is because the law states[iv] that the Ohio suspension is to end on the last day of the six month Ohio suspension period or on the last day of the suspension of the person’s nonresident operating privilege imposed by the other state or federal court, whichever is earlier.
However, this statute references a suspension by a state or federal “court” and thus may not be helpful when client is convicted in a state where DUI suspensions are not imposed by the court but is imposed by the DMV or BMV or other agency. These complications in Ohio law are one of the many reasons you should hire an Ohio lawyer like Tim Huey to help you with your Ohio license.
According to Mr. Huey, the Ohio BMV normally imposes a full six month suspension and does not end the suspension automatically on the date the suspension ends in the other state. Thus, if applicable, you or your Ohio attorney will likely have to contact the BMV and try to convince the BMV that the suspension is supposed to end earlier.
Obtaining Limited Privileges in Ohio
You should make sure both you and your attorney have certified copies of any entries from your imposing a suspension based on your Michigan DUI as these documents will be needed when trying to persuade the Ohio BMV to acknowledge the suspension and terminate the six month suspension early. You should also understand that it may be necessary to appeal the suspension in order to pursue this relief and that the 21 day clock on the appeal starts running on the date the suspension notice is mailed.
Your goal will be to obtain limited driving privileges during the Ohio suspension. If such privileges are granted, then they are directed at preserving “the ability to continue the person’s employment.” However, most courts will consider granting some school, medical and, perhaps, family related driving needs.
These privileges are not granted by the BMV but rather by a judge in the Ohio Municipal Court, County Court or Juvenile Court whose jurisdiction includes your Ohio address.
Limited Privileges are not Automatic
It is Tim Huey’s opinion, based on his vast experience, that most Ohio courts will grant such privileges as a matter of routine. However, this is not required and it’s best not to assume that such privileges are automatic. Ohio law says “the court may grant the person limited driving privileges.” Use of the word “may” (rather than “shall”) means such privileges are clearly within the court’s discretion. Moreover, the judge “may impose any condition it considers reasonable and necessary to limit the use of a vehicle by the person.” Presumably this could include an “ignition interlock” device or require the client to obtain the yellow and red plates for his car.
A top Ohio DUI lawyer will have an idea as to how tough the judge or judges in your home jurisdiction may be in DUI cases and/or what conditions the judge may impose in granting privileges.
How Long Before You Can Obtain Ohio Privileges?
Your attorney can petition the appropriate court for limited driving privileges as soon as you receive the notice of suspension. Courts generally grant privileges that are effective immediately, and this avoids the “hard time” period that would apply if you were convicted of OVI in Ohio. Like everything else, this is not an absolute because the Ohio statute appears to require certain hard time periods be imposed for out of state convictions.
“Hard time” is a period of the suspension in which no privileges can be granted. For out of state convictions the appropriate hard time would be: 1) the first 15 days of the 6 month suspension if the client has no prior DUI or related vehicular injury or death charges within six years, 2) the first 30 days if there is 1 prior DUI or related vehicular injury or death charges within six years. If there are 2 or more priors within 6 years the client cannot get limited privileges during the entire 6 month suspension period. These hart time suspensions will only occur if the court strictly applies the statute.
Implied Consent Suspensions Don’t Trigger this Action
A Michigan “implied consent” suspension occurs only when you refused a breath or blood test after being arrested for the Michigan DUI. Such refusal will result in as much as a two year Michigan suspension. However, there is no specific provision in the Ohio revised Code for the Ohio BMV to impose a separate suspension where an Ohio driver is found to be responsible for an Implied Consent suspension in another state, and consequently, the Michigan DUI Administrative License Suspension will usually not trigger a separate Ohio Suspension.
Not Legal Advice
Nothing herein is meant to be legal advice. In particular, this summary is not meant to be used or relied upon by non-lawyers without the assistance of a lawyer who can review the statutes referred to herein and make his or her own determination as to what the statutes specify.
To the extent that this summary describes standard practices of the BMV and courts, it does so based upon the experience of the author, Mr. Tim Huey. The BMV or individual employees may not always follow the standard practices described herein. More importantly, individual courts, judges and BMV hearing officers may have their own practices, procedures and views of how these statutes should be interpreted.
[ii] Ohio Revised Code Section 4510.17
[iii] RC 4510.02(B)(4)
[iv] RC 4510.17