Are certain drunk driving offenses so serious that they warrant a lifetime driver's license ban for the offender? Attorney Jon Saia recently offered his insight to The Columbus Dispatch on this rarely-imposed and heavily weighed sentence that all Ohio judges have the option of considering in extreme OVI cases.
According to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, lifetime driving bans have only been handed down 34 times in Ohio in the last decade. However, this August, Franklin County is set to rule on its fourth lifetime ban of the year, which would put 2015 on a much higher rate than years previous--including 2014, which only had one. Each of 2015's lifetime bans involved drunk driving deaths or more than five repeat offenses.
Ohio's lifetime ban penalty is only mandatory for the offense of aggravated vehicular homicide where drugs or alcohol were a factor. According to Attorney Saia, that offense is often plea-bargained down to a third-degree felony, which leaves the license suspension length up to the judge--making the lifetime suspensions even rarer.
During his nearly three decades of OVI defense experience, none of Attorney Saia's clients have ever received a lifetime driving ban. He admits, though, along with others the paper talked to, that Ohio's number of bans seems low. He told The Columbus Dispatch that he suspects that the bans are not properly submitted or recorded by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Lifetime Driving Ban Sentences Are Not Considered Lightly
While such an extreme penalty is only considered for particularly serious drunk driving cases, judges that spoke with The Columbus Dispatch imparted trepidation about the sentence, likening it to a last resort option when the possibility of rehabilitation appears nonexistent. "It's all I can do," said Judge Colleen O'Donnell. "I owe it to the people of the state of Ohio to attempt to protect them from this individual."
Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Holbrook shared a similar sentiment. "People think these decisions are easy, but they're difficult," he told the paper, noting that the sentence means "there's nothing more that can be done for this person. There's nothing more to be said. They shouldn't be behind the wheel ever again."
If you have charged with a DUI offense in Franklin County or anywhere in Ohio, then contact The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc. today to schedule a free consultation. Our sought-after and experienced Columbus OVI attorneys offer unparalleled insight into this dynamic branch of law and have earned a reputation as one of the premier OVI defense firms in the country.