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Will My License Plate Change Because I Have a DUI?

Will My License Plate Change Because I Have a DUI?

In 1967, Ohio passed a law which opened up the possibility that if you were convicted of a DUI/OVI, your punishment would go beyond the already awful prospect of suspended permits, higher insurance payments, and employment problems. The law achieved this by giving judges the ability to order a special license plate for those convicted of a DUI/OVI. The decision would be within the sole discretion of the judge – until now.

The special license tag is a yellow plate with red letters and/or numbers and the idea was that others on the road would be able to adjust their own driving habits if they found themselves sharing the road with someone who had a history of driving under the influence. That may sound like a bit over the top and is out of line with the actual harm that may have been caused by someone driving under the influence, but it was based on the established statistics that those who do drive under the influence are more likely to do so again. In fact, a 2015 analysis showed that five Ohio residents who had been convicted of driving under the influence 39 times.

Even though the law has been on the books in Ohio since the 1960s, but it has become more well known in recent years. That is because the order to have the special plates used to be a purely discretionary punishment that a judge might order if he or she thought the driver’s behavior deserved the higher punishment. All that changed in 2014 when, in a push to really crack down on driving under the influence, the Ohio State Legislature made the special plates a mandatory part of the punishment when convicted of a DUI/OVI. The special plates are mandatory for a multiple offender or a first-time offender if it is a high tier offense.

Even before the 2014 change, Ohio had become focused on plates. In 2004, more than ten thousand people were given the special plates. That increasing usage lead to something of a revolt amongst the public who argue that having the plates leads the community to ostracise them and it is not hard to see how that added stress and pressure is not disproportionate to the crime committed, particularly given the fact that you can get booked for operating a vehicle under the influence for doing nothing more than sitting in the passenger seat of your car with your keys in the next county over.

In response to the public pressure, the state has relented somewhat. Today you would only get the special plates if your blood alcohol level was higher than twice the legal limit. While that is an improvement for those who get blood alcohol readings just over the borderline, it still does not remove the reality that if you get the plates, everyone around you will know instantly that you had been driving under the influence.

In today’s world of social media and knee-jerk reactions where decisions are made first and your side of the story may never even be entertained, it is worth it to pick up that phone, or search online, and contact an attorney who will go to bat for you in your Ohio DUI/OVI case. An experienced attorney may be able to help as well as spot weaknesses in the evidence against you such as improper procedures by the prosecution or police.

Please give us a call if you are charged with DUI/OVI. It is imperative to get an attorney involved early. We want to fight for your rights and ensure that one mistake does not ruin your life.