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Forfeited Vehicles and Immobilization in Steubenville

When dealing with an OVI conviction, it’s crucial to understand Ohio’s mandatory minimum sentence requirements. These penalties can include vehicle immobilization or even criminal forfeiture.

However, it’s important to note that immobilization or forfeiture of your vehicle will only occur after your initial OVI conviction. If there is a family member heavily relying on the vehicle for daily tasks and its absence causes hardship, there is an opportunity to request a waiver. If the waiver is granted, specific conditions will be attached to the vehicle’s usage.

Circumstances in Which a Vehicle Will Be Immobilized or Forfeited 

Now let’s shed light on the circumstances in which a vehicle can be immobilized or forfeited. Please consider the following required penalties for 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 in the space of 20 years:
    • Limited driving privileges permitted
    • Required 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 are allowed

Please keep in mind that if your vehicle is ordered to be impounded, a $100 fee will be assessed. Additionally, remember that a vehicle can only be forfeited or impounded if it is connected to your OVI offense and registered in your name.

Immobilization Orders and the Court

When it comes to immobilizing your vehicle, the court takes charge. They issue an order containing important information you need to know:

  • Duration of immobilization
  • Date the order is issued
  • Description of your vehicle, including the year, make, and model
  • Entity responsible for immobilizing your vehicle, whether it’s the law enforcement agency that made the arrest, the agency in your area of residence, a court bailiff, or a person designated by the court
  • Statement noting that the vehicle cannot be registered until the immobilization fee is paid. In other words, you won’t be able to get new license plates until this fee is settled.
  • Location where your vehicle will be immobilized. This could be your residence, your parent’s, child’s, or spouse’s place, a police impound lot, a legally parked public street or highway, or a private property, with written permission from the owner.

Immobilization Period Beginnings

Your immobilization period starts when your car is towed or fitted with a boot by the police. If your vehicle was impounded before your court date, that duration is considered part of the immobilization period.

During immobilization, your license plates will be removed and delivered to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for destruction.

Once the immobilization period is over, and upon payment of the necessary fee, you can reclaim your vehicle and obtain new license plates. The fee for the new plates will be the same as the fee for lost, mutilated, or destroyed ones.

Driving your immobilized vehicle and getting caught will result in your vehicle being seized. It will be taken off the streets, deemed criminally forfeit, and dispositioned. This means the vehicle may be assigned to the law enforcement agency of the arresting officer or sold at auction. In any case, the vehicle cannot be sold back to you or any of your family members.

If you fail to claim your vehicle within seven days after the immobilization period, a letter will be sent to your last known address. You will have twenty days to retrieve your vehicle and settle the fee. Failure to comply will result in forfeiture.

My Car Is Immobilized, Can I Sell It? 

If you find yourself in a situation where your car is immobilized, you might wonder if it’s possible to sell it. Unfortunately, the answer is no, unless you obtain prior approval from the court. Selling an immobilized car requires convincing the judge that you have legitimate reasons to do so. Once you manage to persuade the judge, they will give their consent to the registrar and notify you of their approval.

But the restrictions don’t end there. During the period between your arrest and the immobilization of your car, transferring or assigning the title without the court’s prior approval is strictly prohibited. Any attempts to do so will result in the judge instructing the registrar and deputy registrars to reject any vehicle registration applications in your name for two long years.

Post-Immobilization Disposal of Vehicle

Now let’s fast forward to the post-immobilization period. What happens to your car after it’s been immobilized? If you fail to retrieve it, anyone who obtains it at that point is legally forbidden from selling or transferring it back to you. They are well within their rights to sell it, scrap it, or dispose of it in a legal manner. If the car is ultimately scrapped, the salvage or scrap yard must clearly label the title as “FOR DESTRUCTION.”

Another consequence of immobilization is the court ordering the removal of the license plates, which will be sent to the registrar.

It’s important to note that even after the disposal of your car, you are still responsible for paying the immobilization fee.

Immobilization Waiver

To ensure that your vehicle remains free from immobilization, there’s a way for a family member or someone living in your house to make a request. But hold on, there are a couple of conditions that must be met before granting this request.

  1. First and foremost, the household or family member must take action and file a motion in court prior to the issuance of an immobilization order. This motion needs to paint a clear picture, highlighting the fact that the person filing depends entirely on the vehicle for essential activities like trips to the grocery store, school drop-offs, doctor visits, and the daily commute to work. It’s crucial for this motion to stress that immobilizing the vehicle would impose an undue hardship on this individual.
  1. Now, let’s move on to the second condition. The court has to establish that immobilizing the car would indeed create an undue hardship for the family member who relies heavily on it for their basic necessities of life.

Once the waiver is granted, it will have a specified duration that aligns with the original immobilization period. It’s important to note that a $50 fee will be charged for obtaining the waiver. Additionally, a copy of the waiver will be filed with the court, provided to you, and given to the person who requested it.

The waiver itself will include key details such as the requester’s name, the vehicle at hand, and the authorized household or family members who are permitted to drive the car. It will also clearly state your name, along with explicit instructions that you are not allowed to drive the vehicle.

Throughout the duration of the waiver, the vehicle must display restricted plates, ensuring compliance with the granted permissions.

Now, listen up! It’s absolutely vital that the person granted the waiver does not under any circumstances allow you to get behind the wheel. If this unfortunate event occurs, the waiver will be terminated, and the vehicle will be immobilized for the remaining period of time. Not only that, but the household member who allowed it will face charges of an unclassified misdemeanor, while you will be charged with a 1st-degree misdemeanor.

If you find yourself facing the potential loss or immobilization of your vehicle, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (330) 992-3036 or reach out to us online. Schedule a free consultation and let us help you navigate through this challenging process.

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