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Forfeited Vehicles and Immobilization in St. Clairsville

A St. Clairsville OVI lawyer will educate you on Ohio law, which imposes mandatory minimum sentences for certain OVI convictions. Among the penalties is the possibility of immobilizing your vehicle or criminally forfeiting it.

Vehicle immobilization or forfeiture only occurs after your first conviction for OVI.

If the court orders your vehicle to be immobilized or forfeited, and if a family member relies on the car for essential daily activities and not having it would cause hardship, that family member can request a waiver. If granted, the waiver allows the person to continue using the vehicle with specific conditions.

Circumstances in Which a Vehicle Will Be Immobilized or Forfeited

Here are the required penalties and situations related to OVI convictions beyond the first:

  • 2nd OVI within 6 years:
  • Vehicle immobilized for 90 days
  • Class 4 suspension for 1 to 5 years
  • License plates impounded for 90 days
  • Limited driving privileges permitted
  • 3rd OVI within 6 years:
  • Criminal forfeiture of vehicle required
  • Class 3 suspension for 2 to 10 years
  • Limited driving privileges allowed
  • 4th or more OVI within 6 years OR a 6th OVI within 20 years:
  • Limited driving privileges permitted
  • Mandatory criminal forfeiture of vehicle
  • Class 2 suspension for 3 years to life
  • OVI conviction following a felony conviction:
  • Mandatory forfeiture of vehicle
  • Class 2 suspension for 3 years to life
  • Limited driving privileges allowed

If your vehicle is impounded, a $100 fee will be assessed. Impoundment or forfeiture of a vehicle occurs only if it is involved in your OVI offense and registered under your name.

Immobilization Orders and the Court

The court will issue an order for immobilizing your vehicle, containing the following information:

  • Duration of immobilization
  • Date of issuance
  • Vehicle description (year, make, and model)
  • The entity responsible for immobilizing the vehicle (law enforcement agency that made the arrest, law enforcement agency in your jurisdiction, court bailiff, or a court-appointed individual)
  • A statement indicating that the vehicle cannot be registered until the immobilization fee is paid. This means you cannot obtain new license plates in your name from the registrar or deputy registrar.
  • Location where the vehicle will be immobilized, which can include your residence, a police impound lot, a legally parked public street or highway, or a private property with written permission.

Initiation Period Beginnings

The immobilization period commences on the day your vehicle is towed or fitted with a boot. If it was impounded prior to your court date, that duration is credited towards the total immobilization period.

The person responsible for immobilization will remove the license plates from your vehicle and send them to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for destruction.

Once the immobilization period concludes and you pay the fee, you will be granted authorization to reclaim your vehicle and obtain new license plates. The fee for the new plates will be the same as that for lost, mutilated, or destroyed plates.

If your vehicle is immobilized and you are caught attempting to drive it, the vehicle will be confiscated. It will be removed from the street, deemed criminally forfeited, and disposed of. This may involve transferring the vehicle to the law enforcement agency responsible for the arrest or selling it at an auction. However, it is important to note that the vehicle cannot be sold back to you or any of your family members under any circumstances.

If your vehicle undergoes the immobilization period and you fail to claim it within seven days, a letter will be sent to your last known address. The letter will inform you that you have twenty days to retrieve the vehicle and pay the fee. Failure to comply will result in forfeiture.

My Car Is Immobilized, Can I Sell it?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Selling your immobilized car without prior court approval is not allowed. You must convince the judge that selling the car is not an attempt to bypass the immobilization. Only if the judge grants consent, will the registrar and you be notified of the approval to proceed with the sale.

Likewise, transferring or assigning the vehicle’s title between your arrest and the immobilization period also requires court approval. Failure to do so will result in the judge ordering the registrar and deputy registrars to reject any application to register a vehicle in your name for a two-year period.

Post-Immobilization Disposal of Vehicle

If you fail to retrieve your car after the immobilization period ends and it is subsequently disposed of, it cannot be sold or transferred back to you, regardless of who possesses it. The only options available are to sell it, scrap it, or engage in any other lawful activity involving the vehicle. If the car is scrapped, the salvage or scrap yard must mark “FOR DESTRUCTION” on the title before processing it.

Additionally, the license plates will be removed and forwarded to the registrar under court order.

Please note that the fee for immobilization will still be owed.

Immobilization Waiver

As indicated earlier, under specific circumstances, a family member or someone residing in your household may request the exemption of immobilizing your vehicle. However, there are two conditions that must be met in order for the request to be granted.

  • Firstly, the household or family member must file a motion in court prior to the issuance of the immobilization order. This motion should clearly state that the person filing is entirely dependent on the vehicle for essential life activities, such as grocery shopping, school transportation for the children, medical appointments, and commuting to work. It must also demonstrate that immobilizing the vehicle would impose an undue hardship on the person involved.
  • Secondly, the court must determine that the family member would indeed face an undue hardship if the vehicle were immobilized, considering their reliance on it for daily necessities.

The waiver will explicitly specify the duration for which it will remain valid, mirroring the length of the original immobilization period. Please note that a fee of $50 will be charged for the waiver. Additionally, a copy of the waiver will be filed with the court, and both you and the person to whom the waiver was granted will receive a copy.

The waiver will include the name of the person who requested it, the details of the vehicle involved, and the names of the household or family members permitted to drive the vehicle. Importantly, it will also state your name and explicitly indicate that you are not permitted to drive the vehicle.

Throughout the duration of the waiver, the vehicle must display restricted license plates at all times.

It is crucial to note that the individual granted the waiver must not allow you to drive the vehicle. Should this occur, the waiver will be terminated, and the vehicle will be immobilized for the remaining duration of the initial immobilization period. The household member who granted you permission to drive will be held accountable for an unclassified misdemeanor offense, while you will face charges of a 1st-degree misdemeanor.

If you are currently facing the possibility of losing or immobilizing your vehicle, please reach out to us for a free consultation at (330) 992-3036 or contact us online. We are here to assist you.

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