FAQ – Vehicle Immobilization and Forfeiture in Columbus & Central Ohio
A: If a person is charged with DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) and does not have any DUI/OVI convictions in the last ten years, the vehicle driven by the person can be towed. Ohio law authorizes officers to seize the vehicle, which typically means having it towed to an impound lot or towing yard. However, Ohio law does not authorize officers or courts to immobilize the vehicle or forfeit the vehicle.
If the vehicle was towed for a first-offense OVI, it should be eligible for release soon after reaching the impound lot or tow yard. It can be released to the vehicle owner upon proof of ownership and payment of towing/storage fees. If the owner's driver’s license was suspended at the time of the OVI charge, another person (with a valid driver license) will need to drive the vehicle out of the tow yard or impound lot.Q: What Can Happen to my Vehicle on a Second-Offense DUI/OVI?
A: If a person is charged with OVI and has one prior DUI/OVI conviction within the past ten years, Ohio law authorizes seizure and immobilization of the vehicle driven at the time of the offense, if the vehicle is owned by the driver. When a person is charged with a second offense within ten years, the vehicle is typically towed. The vehicle cannot be released or relocated without a court order. It is advantageous to obtain a court order for relocation (or release) to avoid daily fees for storage of the vehicle.
If a person is convicted of a second-offense OVI, the vehicle driven by the person is immobilized for 90 days (and the license plates are impounded for 90 days). There are two exceptions to this. First, if the vehicle is not owned by the convicted person, there is no immobilization or impoundment. Second, the court can waive immobilization and impoundment if the vehicle if the owner’s family our household member living with the owner is completely dependent on the vehicle.Q: What Can Happen to my Vehicle on a Third-Offense (or More) DUI/OVI?
A: If a person is charged with OVI and has two (or more) prior DUI/OVI convictions within the past ten years, Ohio law authorizes seizure and forfeiture of the vehicle driven at the time of the offense. When a person is charged with a third (or more) OVI offense within ten years, the vehicle is typically towed and cannot be released or relocated without a court order.
If a person is convicted of a third-offense (or more) OVI within ten years, the vehicle is forfeited. That means the government takes ownership of the vehicle. There is one exception to this. If the vehicle is not owned by the convicted person, there is no forfeiture of the vehicle. Also, if there is a lien holder (e.g., a bank), the lien holder must be given notice of the potential forfeiture and an opportunity to address the forfeiture in court.Attorneys For DUI / OVI in Columbus and Central Ohio
The Dominy Law Firm regularly represents clients charged with DUI / OVI who are facing vehicle immobilization or forfeiture. We understand the laws relating to this topic and have strategies for avoiding immobilization and forfeiture. If you are facing immobilization or forfeiture in your OVI case, we can help. To schedule a free consultation about representation for your case, please submit a CONTACT FORM or call 614-717-1177.