Explaining the Administrative License Suspension and Ways to Avoid it.

A lot of my clients are often confused by the Administrative License Suspension (“ALS”).  The ALS occurs immediately if you are stopped by police, and either refuse to submit to a blood alcohol test, or you agree to be tested, and test over the legal limit.  Fundamentally, the ALS occurs at the time you are charged.  It is a pre-dispositional suspension imposed by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. 

Now some of you may ask yourself; isn’t this unconstitutional?  Where’s the due process?  How can a court impose a punishment before I have actually been convicted of the crime?  I would agree with you, but, the Supreme Court of Ohio has ruled that imposing an ALS before conviction is constitutional.  The Court’s reasoning is that the right to drive is not a fundamental right; it’s a privilege.  When the state of Ohio issues you a license, you are agreeing to abide by certain rules.  One of those rules is to submit to a blood alcohol test when asked by a police officer and not test over the legal limit.  If you violate this rule, your license can be immediately suspended. 

Another point of confusion about the ALS is the amount of time that your license is suspended.  The time of the ALS suspension is often different from a court ordered suspension after you have been convicted of a DUI/OVI.  For example, for a first offense OVI, if you test over the legal limit, the ALS will be 90 days.  However, if you are later convicted of the OVI, by law, the ALS will terminate and you will be under a court ordered suspension.  The minimum time for a court ordered suspension, for a first offense OVI, is one year.  Often, clients come into my office thinking that their license will only be suspended for 90 days, but that is not true if you end up being convicted of the OVI.  

Is there a way to avoid the ALS suspension?

Yes, one of the first conversations I have with my clients is whether or not grounds exist for an appeal of the ALS.  You only have 30 days from your arraignment to file an appeal of the ALS.  There are limited circumstances under which an ALS can be challenged. The scope of an appeal is confined to four issues:

  1. Was your arrest based on reasonable grounds?
  2. Did the officer request that you take a blood alcohol test? 
  3. Were you made aware of the consequences if you refused or failed the test? 
  4. Did you refuse or fail the test?


If the appeal is successful, your license will not be suspended during the pendency of your case, which can save you a lot of hassle especially if you are employed full time and rely your car for transportation. 

Categories: DUI/OVI
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