Why You Need an OVI Lawyer

Why You Need An OVI Lawyer

If you’ve been charged with an OVI in Columbus, it pays to hire an experienced OVI lawyer.

Have you recently been arrested for an OVI in Columbus? If so, your very first step should be to hire the right DUI lawyer. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer for your OVI comes with many benefits, but some people don’t see the point in putting in all of that work and effort into finding the right lawyer in the first place. That’s why the professionals at Probst Law Office have come up with this list of just a few of the many reasons to hire a lawyer for your OVI defense.

#1. OVI laws can be complicated.

Ohio state laws are not always straightforward or easy to understand, and the laws surrounding OVIs are no exceptions. Having someone on your side that knows that ins and outs of Ohio’s OVI laws is essential for your case. For example, in Ohio, you are not required by law to take a field sobriety test, and if the officer who pulled you over told you that the test was mandatory, your entire case could get thrown out. If you were to present your own defense, there’s a good chance that you’ll miss things that could have helped immensely with your case.

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#2. The consequences of an OVI can be severe.6

In a previous blog, we talked about the financial consequences associated with getting an OVI in Ohio. The bottom line is that OVIs are expensive, but the consequences go beyond financial ramifications. OVIs can have a huge impact on everything from your ability to find a place to rent to your ability to land a job, but the good news is that, by hiring an experienced, qualified defense attorney, you may end up facing a lesser sentence than if you go it alone. That’s why, even if you aren’t trying to prove that you’re innocent, it’s still a good idea to hire an attorney.

#3. They will walk you through each step of the process.

An OVI is different than many other criminal charges because it not only involves the courts but also Ohio’s DMV. It’s all too easy to get so caught up in the criminal charges you’re facing and totally forget to do anything to prevent your license from being suspended. If you’re hoping to contest your license suspension, then it’s best to hire a lawyer who will make the process manageable. In fact, hiring the right lawyer will make every step of the process smoother and easier to manage, and you won’t risk forgetting or overlooking steps that are important to the outcome of your case.

Don’t risk your future; work with the experienced attorney at Probst Law Office.

There are many benefits that come with hiring the right defense attorney for your OVI, but it’s important to note that not all OVI attorneys are made equal. But here in Columbus, you have Probst Law Office on your side, and our attorney has the experience and attention to detail you can rely on. Schedule your free consultation today to get started.

 

So You’ve Been Stopped for a DUI, Now What? Part 2

So You've Been Stopped For A DUI Now What Part 2

The things you do in the immediate aftermath of getting stopped for a DUI can have a huge impact on your case.

When you hear the siren and see those flashing red and blue lights behind you after you’ve gotten behind the wheel with a drink or two in your system, it can strike terror in even the bravest hearts. However, just because you’re getting pulled over with alcohol in your system, it does not mean that your fate is inevitable, or that there’s nothing you can do to make it better or worse. In fact, how you react in the immediate aftermath of getting pulled over can make all of the difference in the world! In our last blog, our DUI lawyer went over a few tips on what to do when you get stopped for a DUI. Here are a few more.

#5. Think twice before submitting to a field sobriety test.

Contrary to popular belief, field sobriety tests do not give clear, reliable evidence of intoxication. But they do give the officer who has pulled you over plenty of subjective observations that can be used to form the conclusion that you are, in fact, intoxicated. Even if you were stone-cold sober, field sobriety tests could make you appear intoxicated. But luckily, the state of Ohio does not legally require anyone to comply with these tests. If you have any qualms about performing field sobriety tests, it’s in your best interest to simply refuse.

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#6. Know the consequences of refusing a BAC test.5

While there’s no law preventing you from refusing a field sobriety test, a blood alcohol content (BAC) test is another story. Ohio has an implied consent law that requires that everyone who is arrested for an OVI takes a urine, blood or breath test. Refusing to take a BAC test can have severe consequences, which the officer is not required to inform you about. If it’s your first refusal, you’ll lose your license for up a year, if it’s your second within six years, you’ll lose it for up to two years, and if it’s your third within six years, you’ll lose it for up to three years. Additionally, refusing to take a BAC test in Ohio may not help you as much as you’d think, as the prosecution can argue that you refused because you knew that you were intoxicated.

#7. Pay close attention to the officer’s actions.

The more information you have about the arrest and traffic stop, the better your OVI lawyer will be able to defend you. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference even the smallest details can make in your defense. For example, if the officer told you that the field sobriety test was mandatory, or that you are required by law to answer all of their questions, that may even be enough to get your case dismissed entirely.

Getting stopped for a DUI can be terrifying, but keeping your head and following these tips can make a big difference in your defense. If you’ve recently been arrested for an OVI in Columbus, contact us at Probst Law Office today.

 

 

 

 

 

So You’ve Been Stopped for a DUI, Now What?

So You've Been Stopped For A DUI Now What

When you get stopped for a DUI, what you say and do can have a big impact on the outcome of your case.

1There’s almost nothing worse than seeing those flashing lights behind you after you’ve had a drink or two. Here in Ohio, the penalties for a DUI, or OVI, are harsh, and how you conduct yourself during the traffic stop can make a sizeable impact on the outcome of your case. Here at Probst Law Office, we know how essential it is to get those moments during a traffic stop right, and that’s why we’ve come up with this list of tips to keep in mind when you’re pulled over for a DUI:

#1. Pull over safely.

The second an officer decides to pull you over for a DUI, they are closely watching every move you make in the police report, including how you pull over. This report can greatly affect your case, so it’s important to make sure that you aren’t driving erratically, like slowing down abruptly or pulling over in a dangerous location.

#2. Avoid making any sudden movements.

This rule applies to any traffic stop, because, first and foremost, an officer is going to be cautious and protect themselves. Everything a police officer does in a traffic stop is in the name of caution. They even approach the vehicle from behind so that they always have a clear view of what the driver is doing. That’s why it’s important to stay still and keep your hands on the steering wheel until you receive further instructions. It’s also important to be very clear about what you are doing when you do move. For example, tell the officer you are going to reach into your wallet or purse to get your driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration before you start moving.

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#3. Be cooperative and polite.

The way you conduct yourself can have a big impact on the outcome of your case. If you are hostile and uncooperative, there’s a much higher chance that the officer will do everything they can to make sure that you are convicted. People who are intoxicated are often belligerent, and if you are able to remain polite and cooperative, the prosecution has to rely solely on the evidence in order to get a conviction. And the evidence alone is not always enough to get a conviction.

#4. You don’t have to answer all of their questions.

While you should always be cooperative and polite, that doesn’t mean that you should answer all of their questions. It’s common to feel anxious or nervous in that kind of situation, and that can make it all too easy to accidentally incriminate yourself. However, this also does not mean that you should lie. If the officer asks you how much you’ve had to drink, simply say that you’ve been advised not to answer any questions.

There are so many things that you need to know and do when you’re pulled over for a DUI, and in our next blog, we’ll be going over a few more of them. If you are facing DUI charges, contact us at Probst Law Office today. Our DUI lawyer will fight for you, as he has for many people in Columbus. Contact us today for your free consultation.

 

 

Your Guide to Record Expungement

Your Guide To Record Expungement

What is record expungement?

If you’ve committed a criminal offense, it can follow you around throughout your life, making everything from finding a job to renting an apartment much more difficult. But what if there was a way to remove that offense from your records, as well as the consequences of that offense? That’s exactly what an expungement is.  In the State of Ohio, sealing a record is the same thing as expunging a record, and it involves removing any reference to the offense on your record and sealing the file. After an offense is expunged from your record, it will be like you never committed it in the first place.

Are you eligible for an expungement?

You are eligible for record expungement if:

  • This is your first and only criminal conviction.
  • You were not subject to a mandatory prison sentence for your offense.
  • If you have a misdemeanor, at least one year has to have passed since your last discharge.
  • If you have a felony, at least three years has to have passed since your last discharge.
  • You have no other expungements.
  • You have no other pending criminal charges.
  • Your conviction is not one of the following: Rape, Sexual Battery, Corrupting a Minor, Gross Sexual Imposition, Sexual Imposition, Obscenity Involving a Minor, Pornography Involving a Minor, Illegal Use of a Minor in Pornography, Driver’s License Violations and Motor Vehicle Violations (minor crimes aren’t eligible for expungements), Bail Forfeitures in traffic cases, First Degree Misdemeanors or Felonies where the victim is younger than 18, First or Second Degree Felonies and Violent First Degree Misdemeanors and Felonies — except for Riot Convictions, Misdemeanor Assault Convictions, Inciting Violence and Inducing Panic.

If you are confused about whether or not you are eligible for records expungement in Columbus, turn to our criminal defense attorney in Columbus today. Not only can we help you determine if you are eligible, we can also help you throughout the expungement process.

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Is expungement worth the cost?

Expunging your record of a past crime is beneficial in many ways, but here in Ohio, it’s not free. Court filing fees for record expungement in the majority of Ohio counties can range from $50 to $125. For some, this can seem like a steep price to pay, but not getting your record expunged could end up costing you more. For example, having a criminal record may make it difficult to find a job. Prior to September 11, 2001, many companies didn’t require background checks for employment, but that has all changed. With stiff competition for many jobs, any offense on your record could hurt your chances of securing a job. A criminal offense on your record could also make it difficult to find a place to rent, secure special licensing and more. A one-time court fee could save you years of missed financial opportunities in the future.

Contact Probst Law Office for record expungement in Columbus.

If you are eligible for record expungement,  it is in your best interest to take advantage of it, but the process can be complicated. Turn to a criminal defense attorney who can help you get through it as quickly and as smoothly as possible. Contact us today to get started.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Avoid a DUI

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Avoiding a DUI or OVI can protect you from fines, jail time and a whole host of consequences for your future.

If you’ve already had a chance to read our latest blog, then you know that, on average, an OVI conviction in Ohio will cost you roughly $7,000. In addition to the financial consequences of being charged and convicted with an OVI, you may have to face incarceration and license suspension, not to mention the many consequences that an OVI conviction can have on your reputation and record. All in all, you’re much better off avoiding an OVI in the first place.

handcuffs1What can you do to avoid an OVI?

  • Don’t drink on an empty stomach – If you are going to have a drink before getting behind the wheel, the effects will be compounded if you haven’t had anything to eat that day.
  • Follow all traffic laws – An officer has to have a reason to pull you over, and if you follow all traffic laws to a T, you won’t give them a reason.
  • Know where sobriety checkpoints are located – Sobriety checkpoints, also called roadblocks, don’t have to be a surprise. In fact, you can learn where these checkpoints all around Ohio are located by checking roadblock.org.
  • Don’t get distracted while driving – While it may be okay to mess around with the stereo or the air conditioning when you’re completely sober, if you’ve had a drink, your reaction times will be slower and it’ll be much easier to get distracted. If you’ve had a drink, minimize all distractions and put all of your focus on driving.
  • Ensure that your vehicle is in good condition – Again, the last thing that you want is to give an officer a reason to pull you over, such as an expired tag or a taillight that has been burnt out.
  • Keep your license, proof of insurance and registration handy – If you are pulled over, you can give an officer reasonable suspicion to perform a field sobriety test if you are fumbling around for your license, registration and proof of insurance. Make sure these things are always easy to access and handy.

The easiest way to avoid an OVI? Don’t drink and drive.

Although all of the above tips could help you avoid an OVI, the only surefire way to avoid one is not to drink and drive at all. Regardless of how well you are driving, if you’ve had enough to eat or not and if your vehicle is in good condition, when you drink and get behind the wheel, you are at risk for an OVI.
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Don’t face the consequences of an OVI alone.

If you’ve been charged with an OVI in Ohio, the consequences can be severe and life changing; don’t face them alone. Our criminal defense attorney has helped people all over Columbus with many different charges, and we’ll provide you with the experienced representation you need when you need it most. Let our attorney work to protect your rights and minimize the consequences of your OVI charge. Schedule your free consultation with Probst Law Office online today.

 

Can You Afford an OVI?

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It’s no secret that getting an OVI can be expensive.

You’ve probably heard a thing or two about just how pricey it can be to be convicted of an OVI, which is what we call DUIs here in the great state of Ohio. However, it’s difficult to truly understand just how much of a financial burden an OVI can be until you’ve actually had one. At Probst Law Office, we believe that knowledge is power, and that’s why we’ve come up with this guide on the true costs of an OVI conviction in Ohio:

Prior to Court:

jail1Bail

The first time you are arrested for an OVI, there is a 72-hour minimum jail time. If you are arrested for your second OVI in 10 years, the minimum jail time is 10 days and the maximum jail time is six months, and for the third time, the minimum is 30 days and the maximum is up to a year. Regardless of how much jail time you are facing, you don’t want to sit in a cell longer than you have to, which means you’ll be looking at bail. On average, bail for an OVI could be anywhere from $150 to $2,000.

Towing and Impound

When you are arrested for an OVI, the officer won’t give you a free pass on leaving your vehicle on the side of the road. It will have to be towed and impounded, and you will be the one responsible for paying for it. Towing and impounding your vehicle could cost $100 to $1,000.

Court Costs

Attorney’s Fees

Having an OVI on your record can make everything from finding a rental home to finding a steady job difficult, and your best chance at reducing the penalties and protecting your record is hiring the right DUI attorney in Columbus. Although fees will vary from attorney to attorney, no one wants to have to pay for attorney’s fees if they don’t have to.

Fines

Fines, just like jail time, are dependent upon how many OVIs you’ve had in the past 10 years. If this is your first offense, you’ll be looking at court fines between $375 and $1,075. If this is your second offense, the fines will be between $525 and $1,625, and if this is your third offense, the fines will be between $850 and $2,750.

Other potential court costs to be aware of:

  • $100 – Penalty Assessment
  • $50 – Alcohol Abuse Education Fund
  • $100  – State Restitution Fund
  • $37 – Jail Cite-and-Release Fee
  • $37 – Breathalizer/Blood Test
  • $500 – License Reissue Fee
  • $375 – Alcohol Awareness School
  • $150 – Ignition Lock

After Court

If all of the other financial penalties were not enough, getting convicted of an OVI can have a range of other impacts on your wallet as well. The cost of insurance, for example, could quadruple for as many as three years after an OVI. Having your license suspended could also make it difficult to get to work, keep your job or even find a new one, so you also have to consider the potential for lost wages.

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Don’t face an OVI alone.

On average, being convicted of an OVI in Ohio will cost you around $7,000. Hiring the right DUI attorney ASAP is essential for your case, and they may be able to minimize or even eliminate the consequences of your OVI charge. Contact us at Probst Law Office today to get started.

 

Don’t Wait to Hire a Defense Lawyer

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When you’re in need of a criminal defense attorney in Columbus, don’t wait to get the representation you need.

Are you facing criminal charges? Whether you’re facing charges relating to a DUI, theft, a white collar crime or anything else, chances are, you’re going to need to find an experienced defense lawyer to represent you. At Probst Law Office, we know that, in the midst of dealing with criminal charges, the very first thing you should do is to call an attorney, but we also know that it can be tempting to try to handle the case on your own, especially if your charges are minor. However, even minor charges can have unforeseen consequences, and it’s important to have legal advice and representation early on in the process. One of the biggest mistakes people make when facing criminal charges is to put off finding an attorney until they have no other option, but there are many reasons to avoid procrastinating when it comes to hiring a defense lawyer:

#1. Your lawyer may be able to negotiate the charges or have them dismissed.

Did you know that you don’t even have to wait until the charges have been formalized to hire a lawyer? Finding a lawyer immediately after you are arrested makes it possible for your defense attorney to either negotiate your charges or have them dismissed altogether before they are even formalized. Once the charges are finalized and the case commences, it’s a lot more difficult to get a dismissal.

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#2. You’ll have an experienced spokesperson on your side.

It’s completely natural to feel defensive and upset when you are accused of something, which makes it all too easy for you to inadvertently damage your own case when you’re telling your side of the story. Hiring a lawyer early on allows you to explain your situation in full and in confidence to your lawyer, who can then communicate with the court and the prosecution for you. This greatly reduces the risk of unknowingly or accidentally damaging your case.

#3. Your lawyer will have more room for bargaining.

Hiring a defense attorney as soon as possible gives you a better chance for a positive outcome because it gives your attorney more room for negotiations. Whether your attorney wishes to negotiate the plea bargain, the authorization of your charges or the charges themselves, the earlier in the process they can negotiate, the easier it will be. Give your attorney the most bargaining power by calling them as soon as possible after an arrest.

Have you been arrested or are you facing criminal charges?

If so, don’t put off hiring a defense attorney or attempt to face the consequences alone. At Probst Law Office, our criminal defense attorney in Columbus will fight for you every step of the way, and the earlier you turn to us, the better the chance you’ll have of getting the outcome you’re looking for. We offer free consultations, and our experienced attorney can represent you for a variety of charges. Turn to a knowledgeable attorney you can trust by turning to Probst Law Office. Schedule your free consultation today.

 

 

Understanding Your Miranda Rights

 

Understanding Your Miranda Rights

Most Americans are familiar with the Miranda warning, often because we hear it repeated in television crime dramas and cop movies.  It’s a staple of the American justice system and rightly so.  Also known as the Miranda rights, this warning is often recited by police upon issuing an arrest. However, these rights are only triggered during a custody interrogation. In other words, police officers are required to advise you of these rights if you are in custody and they are questioning you about the offense in an effort to elicit responses that may be used against your interest.

It is a federally mandated requirement, adopted by the State, that serves two purposes: it protects a citizen who is arrested and in custody from unknowingly incriminating him/herself, and it ensures that any evidence or testimony obtained during the custodial interrogation is not illegally or unconstitutionally obtained

While the exact wording can vary in different jurisdictions, the primary elements are as follows:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to speak with an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one can be appointed for you.
  • If you decide to answer any questions now, without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney.
  • Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?

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This warning is issued to you because, if you’re being arrested and questioned while in custody, it’s safe to assume you are suspected of a crime.  In times of intense adrenaline and high emotions, you could say things that can later be used as evidence against you in a trial. It is always advised to exercise your constitutional right to remain silent and say nothing to law enforcement officers outside the presence of an attorney, as voluntary statements made in the absence of a custodial interrogation can be admissible and used against you in court. You should always ask to consult with a criminal defense attorney in Columbus before speaking to police so that you protect your rights and interests. Invoking your rights does not mean that you are being uncooperative with law enforcement officers. Invoking your legal rights also does not mean that you are obstructing official business or obstructing justice.

If you have been arrested or know someone who has and is looking for legal advice, call Michael Probst today to speak directly with a veteran criminal defense lawyer.

Accumulating Points on Your Ohio Driver’s License

Accumulating Points On Your Ohio Driver's License

In the state of Ohio, various traffic violations and convictions can add demerit points to your driving record that accumulate over time, resulting in larger, more serious punishments.  If you accumulate 12 points on your driving record over a period of two years, the courts will impose a six-month suspension of your driver’s license.

A suspension like this can cause serious inconveniences for a working professional, not to mention the penalties you normally face with your insurance provider for diminishing your driving record.  These things can be expensive, and it usually takes an experienced Columbus traffic attorney to reduce your punishment and clear your points.

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Here is a list of traffic offenses that can result in points on your license, based on the Ohio Revised Code 2014.

 

OFFENSE POINTS OHIO REVISED CODE REF
DUI-OVI Alcohol/Liquor/Drugs 6 4511.19A
DR Without Vehicle’s Owner Consent 6 2913.03
Motor Vehicle Felony 6 2913.02
Hit Skip/Leave Scene 6 4549.02/021
Driving Under Suspension/Revocation 6 4510.11 (C)(1)
Drag Racing/Street 6 4511.251
Flee/Elude Officer 6 2921.331 (A) & (B)
Stop Sign 2 4511.43
Traffic Control Lights 2 4511.13-15
Violation at RR Crossing 2 4511.61-64
Traffic Cont Dev/Signs 2 4511.12
Hit-Skip Private Prop 2 4549.03
Vehicular Assault 6 2903.08 (A)(2)
Speed (# in excess of speed) 4/2/0 4511.21
Slow Speed 2 4511.22
Driving Under FRA Suspension 6 4510.16(A)
Following Too Close 2 4511.34
Speed (# in excess of speed) 4/2/0 4511.21
Speed Commercial 4/2/0 4506.16
Disregard of Safety 4 4511.20
Disregard of Safety on Private Property 2 4511.201
One Way Traffic Violation 2 4511.32
Driving Left of Center 2 4511.29-30
Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian/Blind Person 2 4511.46-47
Crossing Yellow Line 2 4511.30
Right Side of Roadway 2 4511.25
Crossing Divided Hwy 2 4511.35
Traffic Lanes/Lines/Safety Zone Violation 2 4511.30-60
Failure to Yield the Right of Way 2 4511.41-42
Opposing Vehicular Traffic Violation 2 4511.26
Improper Passing 2 4511.28
Violation When Being Passed 2 4511.27
Stopped School Bus Violation 2 4511.75
Operating without Due Regard for Private Prop. 2 4511.201
Unsafe Operation on Private Property 2 MUNICIPAL CODE
Reckless Operation on Private Property 2 MUNICIPAL CODE
Without Due Regard 4 4511.201
Unsafe Operation 4 MUNICIPAL CODE
Reckless Operation 4 4510.15
Disobey/Interfere Police Order 2 4513.36
Assured Clear Dist 2 4511.21(A)
Violation of Starting/Backing 2 4511.38
Driving on Closed Hwy 2 4511.71
Dropping/Placing Material on Roadway 2 4511.74
Violation of Restriction 2 4510.11
No Drivers License 2 4510.12(A)
Loss-Physical Cont of Vehicle 2 MUNICIPAL CODE
Prohibited U-Turn 2 4511.37
Improper/Prohibited Turn 2 4511.36
Violation of Not Using Turn Signals 2 4511.39
Failure to Turn 2 4511.36
Failure to Control – Auto Accident 2 4511.202
Aggravated Vehicular Homicide 6 2903.06A (2)
Driving Under DUI-OVI Suspension 6 4510.14
Aggravated Vehicular Assault w/Alcohol 6 2903.08
Aggravated Vehicular Assault 6 2903.08(A)(1)
Vehicular Homicide w/Alcohol 6 2903.06(A)(1)
Involuntary Manslaughter w/Alcohol 6 2903.04D
Physical Control – Vehicular Intoxicated 2 Pending Legal Opinion
Impaired Alertness (CDL) 2 4511.79(A)
OVUAC – Underage DUI 4 4511.19B
Failure to Control/Weaving 2 MUNICIPAL CODE
4th DUI-OVI-Felony 6 4511.19/99
No Temporary Permit/No Adult 2 4507.05 F1
Curfew Violation of Temporary Permit 2 4507.05 F2
Curfew Violation of Driving License 2 4507.07 1B
Failure to Yield to a Funeral Procession 2 4511.451
Unsafe Operation Around Emergency Vehicle 2 4511.213
Aggravated Vehicular Homicide with Alcohol 6 2903.06(A)(1)
Vehicular Manslaughter 6 2903.06(A)(4)
Vehicular Homicide 6 2903.06(A)(3)
Failure to Reinstate Drivers License 6 4510.21 (B)
Involuntary Manslaughter 6 2903.04
Driving Under 12 Point Suspension 2 4510.037(J)
Weigh Station Violations 2 4511.121
Vehicle Controlled Substance 6 4506.15-16
DUI-OVI Refusal 6 4511.19(A)(2)
Driving w/o required endorsement 2 4506.03(A)(1)
Unreasonable for Conditions 2 4511.21(A)
Driving Commercial Vehicle While Disqualified 2 4506.15(A)8
Fatality thru Negligent Operation of Comm. Vehicle 2 4506.15(A)9
Driving CMV Without Obtaining a CDL 2 4506.16(D)1
Driving Comm. Vehicle w/o CDL in Possession 2 4506.03(A)1
OVI/BAC .17 or above 6 4511.19(A)(1) f, g, h, i
Unsafe Operation/Passengers 2 4511.51(D)(E)(F)
Obstructed View 2 4511.70
Headphones 2 4511.84
Towing Violation 2 4513.32

 

To obtain a copy of your Ohio driving record report, you can request one from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Often times, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles will allow you to attend a driving safety course approved by the Bureau to extend the maximum allowed points in a two-year period from 12 to 14.  If you have excessive points on your Ohio driving record, contact our experienced criminal defense attorney at Probst Law Office for your free consultation.

Ohio Supreme Court: No Automatic Sealing of Records for Pardon

Ohio Supreme Court_ No Automatic Sealing Of Records for Pardon

For someone who has been convicted of a criminal offense, there is perhaps nothing more relieving than learning that they’ve been granted a pardon by the Governor, which is defined by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction as “an act of grace or forgiveness that relieves the person pardoned from some or all of the ramifications of lawful punishment.”

Interestingly, the Ohio Supreme Court was recently called upon to decide a case examining the extent to which a person can benefit from their gubernatorial pardon.

The case in question involved a Cleveland woman who was convicted of multiple property crimes, including theft and receipt of stolen property back in the 1990s.

In 2007, she submitted a request for a pardon to the Ohio Parole Board, which then voted unanimously to provide a clemency recommendation to the Governor. Two years later, then-Governor Ted Strickland issued a pardon to the woman for her property crimes.

Sometime after the issuance of the pardon, the woman attempted to have her convictions sealed in the local courts, arguing that she was entitled to this action as part of her pardon. However, these efforts were denied by the courts.

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The woman then filed an appeal with the 9th District Court of Appeals, which affirmed the decision of the lower courts.

Undeterred, the woman pursued the matter all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court, where she argued that the inability to seal her record would essentially negate the benefits of the pardon, as she would still suffer from the lasting negative effects of her prior convictions, including difficulty securing employment, public benefits, housing, etc.

Here, the court disagreed with this argument and affirmed the decision of the lower court, holding that there is no Ohio case law declaring that the sealing of a criminal record must automatically accompany a pardon, and that the Ohio Constitution “expressly contemplates that a record of the conviction and the pardon will be maintained.”

“[A]lthough a pardon grants the recipient relief from any ongoing punishment for the offense and prevents any future legal disability based on that offense, it does not erase the past conduct,” reads the opinion. “In other words, what’s done is done.”

The court also noted that it is within the power of the General Assembly to make automatic sealing of a criminal record a direct result of a pardon, but it has yet to take this step.

Accordingly, the court held that the woman was not entitled to an automatic sealing of her criminal record and must proceed with the process like all other parties under current state law.

If you would like to learn more about expungements/sealing of records, consider speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Columbus to learn more about your options.

Source: The Plain Dealer, “Supreme Court rules that a governor’s pardon does not automatically seal records of the crime,” Robert Higgs, Oct. 23, 2013