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Forfeited Vehicles and Immobilization in Youngstown

A Youngstown OVI lawyer will explain to you that the law in Ohio requires mandatory minimum sentences for some OVI convictions. One of the penalties that can be levied is to have your vehicle immobilized. Another is to criminally forfeit it.

Your vehicle will only be immobilized or forfeited after your first conviction for OVI.

When the court orders your vehicle immobilized or forfeited, and one of your family members needs your car to perform everyday life tasks because not having it would cause a hardship, that family member can ask for a waiver. If granted, the waiver would allow the person to retain the use of the vehicle with certain conditions applied.

Circumstances in Which a Vehicle Will Be Immobilized or Forfeited

The following is a list of required penalties and situations in reference 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 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:
    • Forfeiture of vehicle is mandatory
    • Class 2 suspension for 3 years to life
    • Limited driving privileges are allowed

If your vehicle is ordered impounded, you will be assessed a $100 fee. A vehicle can only be forfeited or impounded if it is involved in your OVI offense and is registered to you.

Immobilization Orders and the Court

The court shall issue an order for your vehicle to be immobilized. That order must contain the following information:

  • The period of time the vehicle will be immobilized
  • The date the order is issued
  • A description of the vehicle – year, make, and model
  • Who will immobilize the vehicle – the law enforcement agency that made the arrest, the law enforcement agency who is over the area where you live, a court bailiff, or someone else named by the court
  • A statement saying the vehicle cannot be registered until the immobilization fee is paid. This means you can’t apply in your name at the registrar or deputy registrar to get new license plates for the vehicle.
  • Where the vehicle will be immobilized. This can be your house or that of your parent, child, or spouse; a police impound lot; a public street or highway where it’s legally parked; or a property owned by a private entity or person, if that entity or person has given permission in writing.

Immobilization Period Beginnings

The period of immobilization begins the day the cops tow your car away or put a boot on it. If they impounded it prior to your court date, that time is credited as part of the immobilization period.

The person who performs the immobilization will take the license plates off the car and send them to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. They will destroy the plates.

Once the immobilization period ends and you pay the fee, you will be authorized to take your car back and get new plates. You’ll have to pay the same fee for them that you would if you had lost, mutilated, or destroyed the old ones.

If your vehicle is immobilized and you somehow find a way to drive it and are caught, you will lose the vehicle. It will be taken off the street, declared criminally forfeit, and gotten rid of. This means, it could be given to the law enforcement agency that the arresting officer works for, or it could be sold at auction. In no case will the law allow it to be sold back to you or one of your family members.

If you go through the immobilization period and then don’t claim the vehicle within seven days, you’ll get a letter at your last known address telling you that you have twenty days to come get the vehicle and pay the fee, and that if you don’t, it will be forfeited.

My Car Is Immobilized, Can I Sell it?

The short answer is, “No, not without prior approval of the court.” You will have to prove to the judge that you’re not selling it as a way to get around the immobilization. If you do convince the judge of this, he will notify the registrar and you that he has given his consent for the sale.

Similarly, you cannot transfer or assign the title to the vehicle between the time you are arrested and the time the car is immobilized, without prior approval of the court. If you do, the judge will order the registrar and deputy registrars to deny you any application in your name to register a vehicle, for two years.

Post-Immobilization Disposal of Vehicle

If you do not pick up your car after the immobilization period is over and it is disposed of, no matter who gets it at that point, they are not allowed to sell or transfer it back to you.

What they can do is sell it, scrap it, or do anything else with it as long as it’s legal to do so. If they scrap it, they have to write “FOR DESTRUCTION” on the title and give it to the salvage or scrap yard.

Also, the license plates will be removed and sent to the registrar, at the order of the court.

You will still owe the fee for immobilization.

Immobilization Waiver

As stated above, a family member or someone else who lives in your house can request your vehicle not be immobilized, but two conditions must be true for it to be granted.

  1. The household or family member files a motion in the court before the order to immobilize is written up. The motion must specify that the person filing is totally dependent upon the vehicle for the necessities of life (grocery runs, getting the kids to school, doctor visits, going to work, etc.) and that an undue hardship would be imposed on that person if the vehicle were immobilized.
  2. The court has found that an undue hardship would be visited upon the family member if the car was immobilized because he or she is dependent upon it for the necessities of life.

The waiver shall specifically state the length of time it shall remain in effect. This period will be the same as the length of the immobilization would have been.

There will be a fee of $50 charged for the waiver. A copy will be filed with the court, and one given to you and the person to whom the waiver was granted.

The waiver will list the person who requested it and the vehicle involved. It will also name the household or family members who are allowed to drive the car and specifically state your name and that you are not allowed to drive it.

The vehicle will have to have restricted plates for the entire period of the waiver.

The person who gets the waiver is not allowed to let you drive the vehicle. If they do, the waiver will be terminated and the vehicle immobilized for whatever period of time is left of the initial immobilization period. The household member will be guilty of an unclassified misdemeanor and you will be charged with a 1st degree misdemeanor.

If you’re facing the loss or immobilization of your vehicle, call (330) 992-3036 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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