What is the new BMV Amnesty Program? Close

Apply for a
reduction or waiver
of driver’s license reinstatement fees!

January 31, 2019 through July 31, 2019

Who is eligible?

  • Individuals who have been charged with certain traffic and minor offenses unless the offense involved alcohol, substance abuse, or a deadly weapon; AND
  • Who have completed all court-ordered sanctions related to the eligible offense(s).


  • Available in cases where at least 18 months have passed since the end of the court-ordered suspension.
  • Eligible applicants must make a minimum payment, but then the reduced reinstatement fees may be paid through a BMV fee payment plan as long as certain requirements are met.
  • Applications can be made in person at the BMV, by mail, or online.


  • Available for people who receive SNAP (food stamp) benefits.
  • Applicants must provide a screen shot of their SNAP case status from the ODJFS benefits portal that includes: (1) Current Status – Active; (2) Current Month; (3) Next Review Date; and (4) any authorized representatives.
  • Applications can be made in person at the BMV or by mail.

For an application (Form BMV 2829) and more information visit

Questions? Attend an upcoming FREE Legal Aid brief advice clinic. View current calendar at

CLICK HERE for a printable flyer!

Can I get my criminal record sealed? Close

Many Ohioans struggle to find a job or housing after being convicted of a crime.   Ohio’s law makers saw the difficulties faced by people with criminal records and passed a law (SB 66) that allows more people to have their criminal records sealed.  SB 66 aims to reduce recidivism and prison time for low-level, non-violent, non-sex offenders, who make up the fastest growing portion of the state’s prison population due to the drug epidemic.

When you seal an adult criminal record in Ohio, the record is not erased. Instead, the criminal record is hidden from the public and most employers. Some employers, such as those that hire nurses, nursing assistants, or child care providers, will still be able to see the record after it is sealed. It will always be available to judges and police officers.

The following information describes generally who in Ohio is eligible to apply to have a criminal record sealed.   To find out if you are eligible to seal your criminal record based on your individual circumstances, click here for the self help sealing record page.  From this page, you can link to more detailed information about sealing a criminal record.  Note, this information does NOT apply to juvenile criminal records.  Click here for information about sealing juvenile records.

In Ohio as of 10/2018, to be eligible to seal a criminal record, you must meet one of two sets of criteria. If you meet the requirements listed under either Criteria A or Criteria B below, you may qualify to seal your criminal record.

Criteria A: First, you may be eligible if you have:

  • No more than five 4th or 5th degree felony
    convictions, AND
  • Unlimited number of misdemeanors, AND
  • No 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree felony convictions, AND
  • No felony sex offense convictions, AND
  • No violent crime convictions (felony or misdemeanor).

If you meet this criteria, you may be able to seal all of your convictions, including felonies and misdemeanors.  If you do not qualify under Criteria A, you may still be eligible to seal your records if you satisfy the following:

Criteria B: You may be eligible if you have NO MORE THAN:

  • Two misdemeanor convictions; OR
  • One misdemeanor and one felony conviction

ALL convictions are considered, regardless of how long ago they happened or where they occurred (including
other state and federal courts).

Even if you are eligible to seal your records, some convictions can never be sealed, including traffic and OVI/DUI offenses, serious crimes of violence, most crimes involving children, most sex crimes, and 1st or 2nd degree felonies.  Also, the prosecutor may object to the request to seal criminal records. It is up to the court to decide whether to allow a record to be sealed.  You can usually seal records of “minor misdemeanor” convictions, dismissed cases, “no bills” and “not guilty” verdicts even if you fail both tests listed above.

The link above to the self help sealing record page, where you can enter your personal information, will help you determine whether or not your offense is or is not eligible to be sealed.

Sealing a criminal record in Ohio is a “privilege,” not a “right.”  This means a judge must review each person’s application to seal a record and decide first if the person is eligible, and then whether or not to grant the sealing.

You can read more about options for people with a criminal record at

Can a Certificate of Qualification for Employment help me? Close

A CQE or “Certificate of Qualification for Employment” can help someone with a criminal record by removing automatic or mandatory restrictions on the types of jobs or professional licenses they can have. Persons with a criminal record often experience these automatic or mandatory restrictions (also known as collateral sanctions/consequences) when they are denied a job or a professional license due to their criminal record. A CQE does not guarantee a job or license. A CQE does not seal or erase the criminal record, so employers can still see a person’s conviction history. A CQE requires employers and state licensing boards to consider each applicant’s record individually instead of denying an applicant based on a blanket restriction. A CQE also benefits employers who hire someone with a CQE by providing immunity from negligent-hiring lawsuits if the person with the CQE re-offends.

Applicants for a CQE must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • If convicted of a misdemeanor, it must be more than 6 months since the individual has been released from all court supervision, including paying all fines and fees.
  • If convicted of a felony, it must be more than 1 year since the individual has been released from all court supervision, including paying all fines and fees.

There are no limits on the number or type of convictions a person can have in order to be eligible, but some limitations exist for people convicted of violent crimes. Also, CQEs are not available for federal or out-of-state convictions or collateral sanctions.

Recent changes to Ohio law have made the process of applying for a CQE slightly easier. Now applicants only need to provide a general statement about how the CQE will assist them. Also, out-of-state residents with an Ohio criminal record can apply for a CQE in any Ohio county where they have a conviction. Current Ohio residents should still apply in the county where they live, even if their conviction is in a different Ohio county.

Lastly, the new law directs the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) to make rules allowing CQE applications sooner than 6 months for misdemeanors and 1 year for felonies. ODRC must also keep track of CQEs granted and revoked, as well as employers where
people with CQEs have been hired.

In order to apply for a CQE a person can complete an application online at or call Legal Aid at 1.888.817.3777 to apply for help.

This article was written by Andrew Torres and appeared in The Alert: Volume 34, Issue 1. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!


How can I enforce my rights if I have been discriminated against based on LGBTQ status? Close

In Ohio, 20 cities have laws protecting people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (“LGBTQ”) from discrimination. See In many instances, the local ordinances create a board or committee charged with hearing complaints under the law. Unfortunately, the process for filing a complaint and addressing discrimination is not always clear.

In February 2016, the ACLU of Ohio learned about discrimination two transgender women faced at a store in Cleveland. The women were protected under Cleveland’s anti-discrimination ordinance.[1] Elizabeth Bonham, a Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Ohio, filed a complaint with the Fair Housing Board, as provided in the ordinance.[2] The Fair Housing Board issued its findings in favor of the women on December 12, 2016.

People who experience discrimination based on LGBTQ status in Cleveland, whether in housing or in public accommodations, can enforce their rights through filing a complaint with the Fair Housing Board. For information about the process, call the Fair Housing Board at 216.664.4529. In other cities that have passed anti-discrimination or human rights ordinances protecting the LGBTQ community, individuals have to contact each city’s law department to learn the appropriate process for filing a complaint.

The ACLU of Ohio has provided trainings on, and continues to provide information on, LGBTQ anti-discrimination ordinances, including enforcement options. For more information visit or call the ACLU of Ohio at 216.472.2200. For information on how to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission contact Equality Ohio at 216.224.0400 or visit

This article was written by Chloe Sudduth and appeared in The Alert: Volume 34, Issue 1. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!

[1] See City of Cleveland, Code of Ordinances, Part Six, Title V – Discrimination, available at

[2] ACLU case Doe vs. Family Dollar, Inc. and CityWide Protection (Administrative Complaint):


I need my driver’s license back – are there payment plans for those who owe fees? Close

The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles offers payment plans to people who owe fees in order to reinstate their driver’s license right away. 

To be eligible for the payment plan, a person must owe at least $150, have met all the other reinstatement requirements, show current proof of insurance, not be under suspension or have pending suspensions, and not be on a court-ordered payment plan.

More information about the payment plan, and the application form, visit  this BMV website.

The completed application, $50, and proof of insurance should be submitted to any deputy registrar license agency or reinstatement center, or by mail to: Ohio BMV Attn: Revenue Management/Points P.O. Box 16521 Columbus, OH 43216.  Note there is an additional $10 service fee for paying at a Deputy Registrar license agency.

Are there extra fees related to getting my record sealed? Close

The Ohio legislature has passed a law which authorized the Attorney General to select a vendor to instruct background check companies to promptly remove sealed or expunged records from their database.

This service costs an extra $45 on top of the filing fee for applying to seal a criminal record.

The service is optional, and courts will review and make decisions on applications to seal a criminal record regardless of whether a person pays the additional fee.

When filing an application to seal a criminal record, the Clerk of Court should provide information about the service as well as an “opt out” form.

I’m not eligible to seal a criminal record, but how can I get help with a CQE? Close

You can apply for a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) if you are not eligible to seal a criminal record.

Legal Aid is now assisting individuals with criminal records who are interested in applying for a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE).

A CQE does not seal or expunge the record, but will allow those who have a felony or misdemeanor conviction to apply to the court to lift the collateral sanction that would automatically bar them from being considered for employment, certification or licensure in a particular field.

To apply for help from Legal Aid, call our intake line at 888-817-3777.

Can medical marijuana cause consequences at work? Close

Following passage of House Bill 523, Ohioans can start using medical marijuana legally in September 2016. Individuals with certain conditions or diseases may get a medical marijuana prescription from their doctor. If they choose to use medical marijuana, there could be unintended consequences for their job.

First, employers are not required to permit or accommodate their employees’ use of medical marijuana. For example, employers who
have a zero tolerance drug policy are not required to make any exception for employees who have a medical marijuana prescription.

Second, employees may use medical marijuana off duty but test positive in a workplace drug test weeks later. A positive drug
testing result may violate their employers’ drug policy and get them discharged or disciplined. In such cases, employees do not have a right to sue their employers for the adverse employment action taken against them.

Third, if employees’ use of medical marijuana violates a workplace drug policy, employers may discharge them “for cause”. A
“for cause” discharge will make the employees ineligible for unemployment compensation.

Fourth, employees who suffer a workplace injury may claim workers’ compensation. But if they test positive for drug use following the injury, their employers have a defense against their claim. Even if employees have a medical marijuana prescription, their employers still have the defense. If the defense succeeds, their claim for workers’ compensation will be denied.

Before using medical marijuana to manage symptoms of health conditions, find out what the possible effect may be for your job. Even a prescription may not ensure you more tolerance or protection in the workplace. If you are concerned about your legal rights, talk with an attorney before you begin taking medical marijuana.

By Tianyu Wang


Does Lakewood offer protections to LGBT population? Close

On June 20th, the City Council of Lakewood passed an ordinance that extends the city’s non-discrimination laws to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens. Ohio is one of 28 states which do not currently have statewide protections for the LGBT population. However, the passage of Ordinance 1-16 will make Lakewood one of 15 cities in the state to adopt such legislation.1

Prior to the passage of this law, there was no protection against discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation in Lakewood in the areas of housing and employment. However, with the enactment of this ordinance, no citizen of Lakewood can be fired, evicted from their home, or denied government services based on the person’s gender identity or sexual orientation. Employers can only fire, promote, or hire employees based
on job performance. The ordinance was spearheaded by City Councilman Dan O’Malley and supported by a great number of city council members.

The ordinance also created a three member human rights committee to hear complaints about violations of the new law. The committee will hear complaints of discrimination based on age, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation or physical characteristics. The committee will have some enforcement powers, including the option of requiring
employers to rehire fired victims of discrimination, and instituting fines of up to $500 for damages.

Similar legislation in the City of Cleveland was debated and passed in July 2016. In 2009, Cleveland passed protections against discrimination for LGBT citizens in the areas of public services (such as bathrooms), but lawmakers amended the language to exclude private businesses from the requirements. Due to the passage of this new legislation, private business owners cannot legally deny public accommodations on the basis of perceived gender or gender identity. The new law, Ordinance 1446.13,2 allows people who are transgender to use the bathroom, locker room, and
dressing room of their choosing. Similar legislation in other Ohio communities such as Columbus and Bexley has already passed.3

1Lakewood Ordinance 1-16:
2Cleveland Ordinance 1446:

By Olivia Milne


I am a U.S. Veteran – how can I get an ID card? Close

New, standardized identification cards are now available to Ohio veterans.

Veterans can take their discharge form – DD Form 214 – to their county recorder’s office, along with a current and valid ID, in order to receive the new ID cards.  The ID can be used to prove eligibility for services and benefits, and for voting.

Counties may charge up to $2 for the ID.

Housing Justice Alliance
The Campaign for Legal Aid will support the Housing Justice Alliance - and we'll be the first community in Ohio to create a right to counsel when someone's home is at risk.

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The Campaign for Legal Aid
Steady growth in donor support through The Campaign for Legal Aid extends Legal Aid’s reach in Northeast Ohio.

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Working together to #ExtendJustice
Our leadership with The Campaign for Legal Aid will extend the reach of justice to more families in Northeast Ohio.

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