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There are many different penalties and outcomes that you may face if you are arrested for drunk driving in the State of Ohio. Most people do not realize the repercussions that can happen and how it can seriously limit your daily activities. For example, Ohio law allows the court to order forfeiture of your vehicle if you are convicted of multiple drunk driving offenses within a 10-year period. For most people, this is a devastating outcome that will put them and any loved ones who rely on the vehicle at issue in a place of serious hardship. Cleveland DUI attorney A. Dale Naticchia is available to assist clients throughout Akron and other areas of Cuyahoga County after they have been arrested for drunk driving. Call him today to begin learning about your legal options.Forfeiture of a Vehicle Following a Drunk Driving Offense
Ohio defines the offense of drunk driving as operating a vehicle under the influence, or OVI. If you are charged with your first or second DUI / OVI, then the court cannot order forfeiture of your vehicle. It can, however, impose other penalties like having your vehicle immobilized temporarily and suspending your license. If you already have two DUI / OVI offenses and are facing another one, however, the court has the power to order a criminal forfeiture of your vehicle. Indeed, forfeiture of a vehicle following a third or subsequent DUI / OVI offense is a mandatory outcome, which means the court does not have discretion in whether to order forfeiture. Ohio Revised Code section 4503.234 governs forfeitures of vehicles. As long as the prosecutor follows the steps outlined in these statutes, the court must order forfeiture.
For a forfeiture to take place, the court must determine that the vehicle in question was used in the commission of the crime of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The vehicle must also be registered to the defendant, which means that if you were driving someone else’s vehicle at the time you were arrested for drunk driving it cannot be forfeited. You are also entitled to an opportunity to speak about the forfeiture to the court before the order is official. The prosecuting attorney must give the defendant seven days’ notice prior to the date that the forfeiture order would be issued. Also, the defendant must have either pled guilty or be convicted of a third or greater DUI / OVI offense for a vehicle forfeiture to occur.
Some people think that selling the vehicle before forfeiture can take place is a viable way to avoid the penalty, but it will likely just create more headaches. The court can still order forfeiture of the vehicle even if it has passed to a new owner, or order that you pay a monetary fine amounting to the fair market value of the vehicle.
You should also be aware that you can face a forfeiture of your vehicle if you are convicted of a third or subsequent offense of driving on a suspended license after being convicted of drunk driving under Ohio Revised Code section 4510.14(B)(3)(d), or if you are operating a vehicle in violation of a court order requiring immobilization of the vehicle under section 4502.236(B).Contesting Forfeiture of a Vehicle
There are a few ways that you can challenge a forfeiture. If you can convince the court that ordering forfeiture would constitute a disproportionately excessive fine based on the offense, then the court may forgo imposing it. The court considers several factors in this assessment, including the value of the vehicle, the circumstances of your case, the harm or potential harm that you could have caused, how central the vehicle was to the case, and any other relevant factors.DUI / OVI Attorney Serving Cleveland Area Residents
Losing your vehicle is a seriously stressful and life-altering outcome for many individuals on top of the fines, jail time, and license suspensions that you may already face following a drunk driving offense in Cleveland. Attorney Naticchia knows how important it is for you to receive compassionate and responsive legal advice during this time so that you are treated fairly. He offers a free consultation and is available to serve clients throughout Parma, Berea, Bedford, Rocky River, Garfield Heights, Stow, and Barberton. Call him today at 216-520-5297 or contact him online to schedule your appointment.