Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (OVI) is treated as a serious offense in Ohio – and all it takes is one bad traffic stop to end up facing charges. It probably comes as no surprise to you that the consequences of an OVI conviction can be severe. Depending on the circumstances, punishment can include a suspended license, fines, initiation interlock device requirements and even jail time.
It can also include public shaming.
A restricted license can lead to a bright yellow plate
Ohio is unique in its approach to drunk driving offenses. It is the only state that requires drivers who are granted limited driving privileges while their license is otherwise suspended to have a bright yellow license plate. These are informally called “party plates.”
The practice has declined somewhat in cases where the court has discretion over the issue, However, Ohio law requires those who have exceptionally high blood alcohol content (BAC) levels when they’re caught drunk driving and repeat offenders to use restricted plates for anywhere between six months and three years (depending on how long it takes for the driver to regain full driving privileges).
The bright yellow restricted plates are extremely noticeable by design. Those who defend the practice say that the plates allow police officers to spot potential drunk drivers – those who already have a history – with ease. They say that this also makes drivers who have the plates more conscious of their behavior.
However, critics point out that the law intentionally stigmatizes drunk drivers. There are no specially colored plates to show that someone has a history of reckless driving, road rage, speeding or any other offense. The plates can also unfairly make a driver the target of intense scrutiny by every passing patrol car.
The public shaming through the use of party plates is problematic in other ways, too. Drivers who have to use these plates have no hope of keeping their convictions quiet. That can affect both their personal relationships with others and their professional reputations. The use of the plates may also unfairly stigmatize family members of the affected driver, especially if they must share the use of the vehicle.
Public shaming is just one more reason that it is so important to have experienced legal guidance if you’re facing an OVI charge. Working with a legal professional may allow you to avoid the consequences associated with allegations of impaired driving.