Seeking a remedy by litigating a BMV suspension is a better option than requesting an administrative hearing before the BMV. Little known and rarely used, R.C. 4510.73 permits most BMV suspensions to be appealed to municipal court as an alternative to seeking a review by an administrative officer of the BMV.
Under R.C. 4510.73, regardless of any statute to the contrary, any court whose jurisdiction has been invoked under R.C. 4510 or any other statute regarding a driver’s license matter (concerning the validity, suspension and/or driving privileges for a BMV imposed suspension) is conferred concurrent jurisdiction to adjudicate all issues regarding the matter.
Some limitations do apply, however. R.C. 4510.73 is expressly inapplicable to matters involving a commercial driver’s license, except that a court can adjudicate issues raised by a CDL holder as long as it does not alter the status of the holders CDL. Also, if another court has obtained jurisdiction over a BMV imposed suspension (such as a trial court which has jurisdiction over an ALS because it is presiding over the underlying OVI charge), that jurisdiction cannot be divested by an action filed under R.C. 4510.73.
Pursuant to R.C. 4510.73, jurisdiction is invoked by a motion, appeal, or petition which states the issue(s). Once jurisdiction is established the court shall adjudicate all issues brought before it. Most importantly, the court has the authority to stay any suspension pending the resolution of the issue. It may also order the BMV to renew a license which has been expired less than 6 months, pending resolution.
Other statutes which provide methods for appealing specific types of BMV suspensions (e.g. 12 point suspensions) do not preclude challenging those suspensions under R.C. 4510.73. Note that R.C. 4510.73 does not limit litigation thereunder to a person’s court of residence.
So why choose municipal court rather than the BMV? First, most practitioners agree that a fairer hearing will likely be provided by a judicial officer as opposed to a representative of the opposing party. Second, a municipal court is authorized to grant driving privileges in many cases, where as the BMV has no authority to grant driving privileges in any case. Third, all issues may be heard in one forum at one time. The appeal may be made in a pending traffic case or in a separate civil filing. The municipal court may grant driving privileges at the same time that it is hearing the appeal.