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What not to do about your license after an OVI arrest

by | Jan 5, 2022 | OVI Defense

Clients often ask us what to do regarding their driver’s license after being arrested for OVI.  In the vast majority of OVI cases, the arresting officer seizes a defendant’s license and serves them with paperwork that they are placed under an administrative license suspension.  There are limited cases where a defendant’s license is not seized and a suspension is not immediately imposed, but that is usually only when the defendant submits to a chemical test, such as blood or urine, and law enforcement is waiting on laboratory results to confirm whether the defendant was over the legal limit.

Can I go to the BMV and get a new license?

A case out of the Eight District Court of Appeals illustrates why this is a bad idea.  In State v. Mims, 2020 WL 1951506, the defendant was arrested and charged with OVI.  As a result, her license was confiscated by law enforcement and was immediately suspended pursuant to the administrative license suspension.  Following her release from custody on the OVI arrest, the defendant immediately went to the BMV to request a duplicate license.  As the arrest had just occurred, the BMV’s database had not been updated with respect to the suspension and still showed her as valid.  While applying for her duplicate license, the defendant filled out a written application indicating that her license was “lost” and that her license was not currently suspended or confiscated.  As a result, the BMV issued her a duplicate license.  Following a subsequent OVI arrest where defendant presented the duplicate license, law enforcement became suspicious and investigated how the license was obtained.  The defendant was ultimately charged with and convicted of tampering with records, a third-degree felony, for her representations to the BMV.

This case highlights a number of issue clients often see following an OVI arrest. Many are confused by the administrative license suspension and what it means.  Additionally, the lag time in the BMV’s database also confuses clients as they can appear valid for several days or longer until the system updates with their administrative licenses suspension.  Furthermore, many individuals also frequently fail to read the fine print when getting their licenses, and the BMV also always asks whether an individual currently has a suspended license.  The fact that Mims either lied or misrepresented herself in response to the BMV elevated the charge she was facing from a maximum of 180 days in jail to a maximum of 36 months in prison.

What Should a defendant do?

If you or someone you know is charged with OVI they should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can walk them through exactly what they can and cannot do and how to go about getting driving privileges in the correct and legal manner.   The attorneys at Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima are experienced and educated to advise a defendant on the dos and don’ts when it comes to driving following an arrest for OVI.