Driving Under Suspension & Related Offenses


Driving is a privilege, not a right. In order to legally drive a motor vehicle in Ohio, the driver must hold a valid driver's license from the Ohio Bureau of Motor of Vehicles (BMV). The BMV is the administrative agency in Ohio that issues driver's licenses to Ohio residents. They're also have authority to suspend or revoke one's driver's license. Some driver's license offense carry stiff penalties, including mandatory jail time. The most common driver's license violations include:

  • Driving Under Suspension

  • Failure to Reinstate License

  • Driving Without a Valid Operator's License

  • Wrongful Entrustment

Driving Under Suspension

If a court of law or the BMV suspends one's driver's license, it is a crime to a motor vehicle while that suspension is pending. This offense is known as Driving Under Suspension. One's license may be suspended for many reasons including (1) failure to appear in court, (2) failure to timely pay a fine, or (3) not having insurance. The penalties for Driving Under Suspension vary based on the reasons for the underlying suspension. Some driving under suspension cases are unclassified misdemeanors that carry a fine of not more than $1,000.00 and no jail time. However, some driving under suspension offenses are first degree misdemeanors, which carry a fine of not more than $1,000.00 and a jail sentence of not more than 6 months.

Driving Under Suspension possible penalties:

  • M1 (misdemeanor of the first degree)

  • M4 (misdemeanor of the fourth degree)

  • Unclassiffied misdemeanor

Driving Under DUI / OVI Suspension

OVI is Ohio's drunk driving / drugged driving law, commonly referred to as DUI in other states. OVI stands for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If one is convicted of DUI / OVI, the Court suspends the offender's license for a period of time. Driving Under a DUI / OVI Suspension is a serious offense: if one is caught driving under a DUI / OVI suspension without privileges from the Court or BMV, the driver will face serious penalties, including mandatory jail time ranging from 3 days to thirty days.

Driving Under DUI / OVI Suspension possible penalties:

  • M1 (misdemeanor of the first degree)

Driving Under a Repeat Offender Suspension (12-Point)

The BMV assess points to drivers who are convicted of specific traffic offenses, typically moving violations. Serious offenses like DUI / OVI carry 6 points; simple speeding tickets carry 2 points; and some non-moving (equipment) violations don't carry points. However, if a driver reaches 12 or more points at any time, then the BMV deems the person a repeat traffic offender and suspends their license. If the BMV deems a person a repeat traffic offender and that person drives, then that person may be charged with Driving Under a Repeat Offender Suspension. 

To restore their license, the person must pay a fee to the BMV, take a remedial driving class, and re-take their driver's license examination. Like Driving Under DUI / OVI Suspensions, Driving Under a Repeat Offender Suspension carries tough penalties, including mandatory jail time of at least 3 days.

Driving Under Repeat Offender Suspension possible penalties:

  • M1 (misdemeanor of the first degree)

Failure to Reinstate Licenses

After a driver's license suspension ends, one does not automatically get their license back. Rather, they must pay a reinstatement fee to the BMV. This offense is known as Failure to Reinstate a License. To be charged with Failure to Reinstate, one must have failed to properly reinstate their license following the termination of a suspension. Sometimes, reinstating a license is a simple as paying a fee to the BMV. Generally, Failure to Reinstate is a nonjailable, unclassified misdemeanor. However, the penalties increase if the driver has multiple Failure to Reinstate convictions.

Failure to Reinstate possible penalties:

  • M1 (misdemeanor of the first degree)

  • Unclassified misdemeanor

Driving Without a Valid Operator’s License

Even if one's license is not under suspension, it is a crime to drive without having successfully obtained a driver's license or failing to renew an expired license. This offense is known as Driving Without a Valid Operator’s License. Generally, this offense is an nonjailable, unclassified misdemeanor. If one's license is simply expired, the penalty is a minor misdemeanor (maximum fine of $150.00, no jail time). However, the penalties may increase based on the number of prior convictions for driving without a valid operator's license.

Driving Without a Valid Operator’s License possible penalties:

  • M1 (misdemeanor of the first degree)

  • MM (minor misdemeanor)

  • Unclassified misdemeanor

Wrongful Entrustment

Allowing someone to drive a vehicle who does not have a valid driver's license is a crime.  This offense is known as Wrongful Entrustment. Wrongful entrustment means that one knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the driver does not have a valid driver's license and allows that person to drive.

Wrongful Entrustment possible penalties:

  • M1 (misdemeanor of the first degree)

  • Unclassified misdemeanor


Have you been charged with a driver’s license related offense? Contact The Stavroff Law Firm today to learn about your rights and begin building your defense.