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My Ohio driver license is suspended. What are my options?

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My driver’s license is suspended but I don’t know why or what to do to get it back.  Where should I start?

Start by finding out the details about your license suspension.  You can look up your unofficial driving record by clicking here. You will need to enter your date of birth, the last 4 digits of your social security number, and either your DL number or your first and last name. You will be able to see the type of suspension, the dates of the suspension, the reinstatement fees owed, and your BMV case number.

Drivers’ licenses can be suspended for a lot of different reasons in Ohio.  For example, traffic violations, failure to pay child support, and failure to pay court debt may trigger a suspension.  Some suspensions are court ordered by a judge, others are based on agency decisions and come from  the BMV.  The steps you must take to get your license back depend on the type of suspension you have.

You may also get a notice in the mail from the BMV about your suspension.  The notice explains the reason for the suspension and what you can do if you disagree with it.  If you did not get a notice in the mail, you can call the Ohio BMV at 614.752.7600 or 844.644.6268 and request that they resend any notices of suspension that were mailed to you. Make sure the BMV has your correct mailing address.

What if I disagree with the reason for my driver’s license suspension?

Depending on what type of suspension you have, you have different options for opposing it.  If you have a court ordered suspension, you have to go back to court to challenge the suspension.  If the BMV suspended your license based on an agency decision, you have a right to request a hearing.  The notice mailed to you must explain how to request a hearing, the deadline for requesting a hearing, and any payment required. NOTE: You must act quickly to request a hearing. The deadline to request a hearing could be as short as ten days from the date on the BMV’s notice.

How long will my driver’s license be suspended?

Different kinds of suspensions last different lengths of time.  You can look up the length of your suspension and other details on the BMV website by clicking here.  If you received a notice in the mail, information about the dates of your suspension will also be on the notice.

What do I have to pay to get my driver’s license back?

Almost all suspensions require payment of fines, court costs, or reinstatement fees. Fines are penalties imposed by the court as punishment for the offense that caused your suspension. Court costs are the administrative costs charged by the court for processing your case and providing a hearing. Reinstatement fees are charged by the BMV after completing the period of suspension. Fines and court costs are owed to the court and payable to the court clerk’s office. Reinstatement fees are owed to the BMV and must be paid to the BMV to get your license back. You can visit the BMV website for more information about different types of suspensions and reinstatement requirements.

I can’t afford the costs, fines, and fees to get my license back. What can I do?

If you cannot afford to pay the fines, costs and fees, some programs offer help. The BMV  offers a payment plan to help low-income drivers pay reinstatement fees. The minimum monthly payment is $50. As long as you make your monthly payment and satisfy other requirements, you can get your license back. You can find more information and an application for the BMV payment plan by  clicking here.

NOTE:  Ohio passed legislation in 2020 that creates an amnesty program that will eliminate or reduce reinstatement fees for some drivers.  The rules for the amnesty program must be published by December 15, 2020 and should be available at the BMV website

Courts may allow you to do community service instead of paying fines and court costs. In Cuyahoga County, see Court Community Services for more information. You must be referred to CCS by the court, the Clerk of Courts, or your probation officer. Some courts may also allow payment plans.

I need to drive to get to work or for other necessities (health, education).  Can I get limited driving privileges?

You may be able to request driving privileges from the court, depending on the type of suspension you received. For qualified suspensions, a court may order limited driving privileges to allow you to drive for specific reasons, at certain times, and in designated locations.  Limited driving privileges may be granted for:

  • Occupational, educational or medical purposes
  • Taking a driver license or commercial driver license examination
  • Attending court-ordered treatment
  • Any other purpose the court determines to be appropriate

In order to qualify for limited driving privileges, your license cannot be expired and you must meet all other suspension requirements. If you receive limited driving privileges, you must keep the order explaining your privileges with you at all times. If you are pulled over without proof of your driving privileges, you can be ticketed for driving under suspension.

You can read more about the type of suspension you have and whether or not you have the option of requesting limited driving privileges here.

What insurance is required and what is an SR-22 / Bond?

Ohio requires drivers to have at least minimum insurance coverage.  Following certain suspensions, a driver may be required to obtain an SR-22/Bond.  The SR-22 is an insurance policy that provides the required minimum coverage for the policy holder only.  You can purchase SR-22/Bonds from insurance companies licensed in Ohio.  The insurance company typically files the SR-22/Bond electronically with the BMV within 72 hours. If a driver cancels their SR-22, the insurance company reports the cancellation to the BMV and the suspension may be imposed again.  For more information about SR-22/Bonds, click here.

I still need a form of ID, what can I do?

You may be able to get a temporary ID card while your license is suspended. If your license isn’t expired and you do not have a warrant block on your record, you can contact the BMV for a temporary identification card.

The temporary ID is different than a State ID card.  If you get a State ID card, your driver’s licenses is automatically cancelled.

What happens if I drive while my license is suspended?

If you are stopped and cited for driving while under suspension, you may be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.  The penalty for this charge is a maximum of 6 months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Your driver’s license suspension may be extended up to one more year.

If your driver’s license was originally suspended for failing to appear in court or failing to pay a court fine, and then you are stopped for driving under suspension, you may be convicted of an unclassified misdemeanor.  The penalty for this charge is additional fines up to $1,000 and an order to complete up to 500 hours of community service.

If you are stopped for driving under suspension, the court may take away your vehicle or use an immobilizing device (“a boot”) on your vehicle, depending on the type of suspension and the number of prior charges for driving under suspension.

If you are stopped for driving under suspension and you also do not have proof of insurance, you may also face a suspension for non-compliance.

If you drive while under a 12-point suspension or OVI suspension, you will face mandatory jail time.

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