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The Ohio Senate and House of Representatives recently passed legislation regarding license suspensions for drug offense convictions.

Ohio law previously required courts to impose license suspensions as part of sentencing for all drug convictions, even if the facts contiguous to the conviction were not associated with operating a vehicle. The license suspension was mandatory, even for minor misdemeanor drug charges. These suspensions took place immediately upon a guilty plea or conviction and ranged from a minimum of six months to five years. These suspensions survive indefinitely on the offender’s driving record, even if the conviction is eventually expunged and sealed. However, two recent resolutions, SB 204 and HB 307, make drug suspensions discretionary, eliminating the mandatory requirement of a license suspension for drug offenses in Ohio.

In addition to eliminating the mandatory license suspension, SB 204 also permits individuals sentenced to a drug suspension to file a motion with the sentencing court requesting a termination of the suspension two years from the date of conviction or the date the offender is released from prison, whichever is later.

Of special note, anyone who received a drug suspension as part of a mandatory sentence prior to this legislation can file a motion with the sentencing court requesting the termination of the suspension. Finally, SB 204 and HB 307 allows Ohio courts to terminate license suspensions imposed for out-of-state drug offenses and permit courts to suspend an individual’s license if nitrous oxide is found in the individual’s vehicle.

Defense attorneys may find themselves in more favorable positions in courts regarding drug cases that do not involve motor vehicles. While these changes are not radical, at least now Ohioans will not necessarily lose their license if convicted of drug offenses not involving a motor vehicle.

Meredith O’Brien, Esq.
The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc.

[email protected]