It can seem somewhat extreme at first, but after a while, it might still sound extreme. If you’re stopped on suspicion of operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI), you’re expected to take a chemical test and if you’re found to be above the limit, your license is suspended immediately, on the spot. The punishment is carried out before any court or jury or attorney has a say.
Implied consent and administrative suspensions
In Ohio, you're seen as having given “implied consent” to be tested by the very act of getting behind the wheel and driving. If you refuse to be tested, your license is immediately suspended for a full year. If you consent to be tested and are found to be above the legal limit, your license is immediately suspended for 90 days. These punishments are for a first offense.
Such suspensions are called Administrative License Suspensions (ALS) because they’re administrative actions by the state’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Strictly speaking, they aren’t initially imposed by the criminal justice system.
For some, reinstatement is even harder than suspension
Instead of holding your license for safe keeping, the Ohio BMV destroys it. To have your license reinstated, you must pay the reinstatement fee of $475. The BMV provides a plan in which you can make monthly payments of $50 instead.
There are ways to challenge an ALS
The arresting officer must have had “probable cause” to pull you over on suspicion of OVI. Before you take the chemical test, the arresting officer must inform you of the “implied consent provisions,” which include the consequences both of refusing and taking the chemical test. In some case, there might be a question of whether the results of the test were accurate or accurately recorded, or of whether or not you consented to take the test.
Because of the impact on your activities and your finances an OVI can have, it’s a good idea to contact an attorney as early in the process as possible. There are usually possibilities for avoiding or lessening the impact of each step in what seems like an inevitable process.