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What does implied consent mean in relation to drunk driving?

Ohio motorists may have heard about the drunk driving laws and how the rule of implied consent applies to all licensed drivers. But what exactly does this mean? What have Ohio drivers impliedly consented to? What are the consequences of refusing to take breath test if a police officer asks a driver to take one? This blog post will discuss the concept of implied consent, including what it means.

When people apply for an Ohio driver's license, they are required to consent to field sobriety tests and chemical tests to determine their level of impairment. This means that if a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that a driver is operating a vehicle while intoxicated, the driver is expected to submit to field sobriety testing and chemical testing. If they refuse, they will be subject to an administrative suspension of their driver's license. This suspension is in addition to any criminal penalties imposed upon conviction of OVI. Even if the driver is found not guilty of OVI, is not charged or the charges are dropped, the administrative license suspension may be imposed.

How long is the suspension for refusing testing? It depends on how many prior instances there have been during the 10-year period preceding the refusal. If there have been no refusals during this period, and the driver has no convictions of or guilty pleas for OVI during the period, then the driver will be suspended for one year. If there is one refusal, conviction or guilty plea during the period, the driver will be suspended for two years. If there are two refusals, two convictions or guilty pleas, or one refusal and one conviction or guilty plea, the driver's license will be suspended for three years. If there are a greater number of refusals, convictions or guilty pleas or a combination of both, the driver's license will be suspended for five years.

These suspensions are not automatic. The driver is entitled to a hearing on the issue, and they are entitled to reasonable notice of the hearing. Grounds may exist to challenge the suspension if procedural or substantive errors were made by the police or the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

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