If you’re facing charges for operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) in Ohio, it’s important to understand the consequences that await you. Like any criminal offense, a conviction for OVI will lead to fines and possibly even jail time. There are administrative penalties, such as the suspension of your driver’s license, that you may have to contend with.
However, another penalty you could face is the forfeiture of your vehicle. When does this happen, and how can you reclaim your vehicle?
What is vehicle impoundment?
Vehicle impoundment is a legal process where law enforcement takes your car into custody following an offense like OVI. It’s not just an inconvenience; it can also mean added fees and the challenge of being without transportation.
According to Ohio law, your vehicle will be seized and detained if you’re arrested for an OVI and you have previously been convicted of or pleaded guilty to two or more OVI offenses within the past ten years. In addition to your vehicle, the officer will also take away your car’s license plates if you’re the vehicle’s registered owner.
If you’re not the registered owner of the vehicle – for instance, the vehicle you used at the time of the arrest was your father’s – the court will send a written notice to the actual owner informing them that the vehicle is in police custody after your OVI arrest.
Reclaiming your vehicle
Once impounded, the law sets forth the conditions for getting your vehicle back. Typically, you can reclaim your car after the designated impoundment period has passed, usually based on the length of your license suspension. However, reclaiming your vehicle often involves paying various fees, including towing and storage costs.
In Ohio, the impoundment of your vehicle following an OVI arrest hinges on your prior OVI convictions. If you have two or more OVI convictions within the last decade, and the car is registered in your name, impoundment is not just a possibility—it’s a given. Remember, an OVI charge is a serious matter with significant repercussions. If you find yourself in this situation, consider seeking a legal professional to navigate the complexities of your case and understand all the potential outcomes.