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Ohio Updates Drug Crime & License Suspension Laws for the Better


Ohio Senate Bill 204 passed in May of 2016 and officially became effective on September 13th, 2016, changing the face of the state’s drug crime laws and how they interact with driver’s license suspensions. For many people across the state, this new law marks a serious improvement to a system that was notoriously harsh on certain offenders.

The main changes that come with Senate Bill 204 are:

  • Discretion: Many drug crime penalties included the automatic suspension of an offender’s driver’s license if there was any indication that their vehicle may have been involved with the carrying out of the offense, such as in a drug trafficking conviction. The new law removes the automatic suspension and makes the system discretionary, or on a case-by-case basis.
  • Early reprieve: If a person has their license suspended in another state for a drug offense committed there, an Ohio court can remove that suspension if the convicted now lives in Ohio. The same opportunity also applies to most drug charge convictions originating in Ohio.
  • Nitrous oxide: Being caught with illegal nitrous oxide – or NOS as it is sometimes called – in a vehicle for the purpose of street racing no longer triggers an automatic driver’s license suspension. This punishment is now discretionary as well.

Consistency: Previous legal statutes were so heavy with legalese, members of the court system had troubling discerning when to grant limited driving privileges to offenders who lost their license due to suspension. The language of the law has been generally cleaned up with the goal of granted more restricted licenses to more people.

Overall, the changes from Senate Bill 204 are meant to take less people out of their vehicles and off the roads for minor offenses, or offenses that do not have to do with vehicular crimes. Stripping someone of their driver’s license can sometimes be akin to firing them, as they can no longer get to their places of employment. In other situations, picking up their children from school or dropping them off becomes an impossible task, and now young kids are affected by the sentencing. Hopefully these changes will rebalance Ohio’s criminal justice system for the better.

If you would like detailed information about Senate Bill 204, you can visit The Ohio Legislature and review the bill in its entirety here. If you believe some of the changes are pertinent to a recent ruling on a drug crime case of your own, or if you just need help fighting charges, you can call 614.707.4239 to connect with The Meranda Law Firm. Our Columbus criminal defense attorneys have 15+ years of combined legal experience and offer free consultations to inquiring clients.