APPEALS COURT OVERTURNS SUSPENDED LICENSE CONVICTION WHERE DRIVER HAS VALID DRIVING PRIVILEGES
The Court of Appeals for the State of Ohio recently overturned a conviction for driving on a suspended license where the Defendant was previously granted limited driving privileges and it could be shown that the Defendant was operating within the guidelines set forth in those limited driving privileges. Lakewood v. Tate , 2018-Ohio-2731.
In Tate, the Defendant rolled through a red light and the officer ran his license plates. The check came back showing a suspended license for the owner of the car. The officer pulled the car over.
The driver’s license had been suspended for an OVI. He was given limited driving privileges to drive his car while under suspension, and his privileges indicated he could travel from his home to visit his mother and brother.
The driver told the officer he had driving privileges and tried to find his paperwork. He couldn’t immediately find the paperwork, so the officer said he was going to go back to his police cruiser to determine what the privileges were. The officer couldn’t find his privileges and the driver did not have proof of insurance.
When asked where he was going, the driver changed his story. The officer believed he was driving outside of his privileges and cited him for driving under suspension. After he issued the ticket, the driver found his privileges, which were “very generalized as far as the Cleveland area. It made some mention of visiting family.” As a result, the officer let him drive.
At trial, the driver was found guilty and appealed.
DEFENDANT WAS DRIVING WITHIN HIS LIMITED DRIVING PRIVILEGES
The prosecutor in Tate argued that although his privileges included language that he could drive to visit his family, the Defendant was driving outside of the limits of his privileges. The location where the Defendant was stopped was not on a logical path from where the Defendant stated he was coming and the addresses of the family members where he was permitted to travel to.
The Court disagreed. The officer stopped Defendant in an area where it could be argued a driver would reasonably have had to travel through to get to his mother’s house. The Court in Tate noted that even the arresting officer described the privileges as being generalized an open to interpretation. The Court also took note that the arresting officer had told the Defendant that his car was going to have to be towed, but allowed the Defendant to drive away after he produced his privileges implying the officer believed the Defendant was within the guidelines of his driving privileges.
As a result, the driving under suspension conviction was overturned.