What is a non-compliance suspension?
A non-compliance suspension is imposed by the BMV under R.C. 4509.101. A person cannot operate or permit the operation of a vehicle unless proof of financial responsibility (FR) is maintained for that vehicle. If the driver of the vehicle does not own it, he or the owner must have coverage which extends to his operation of the vehicle (owner’s FR or driver’s FR provides coverage while driver operating the vehicle). A violation of the FR requirement leads to a non-compliance suspension and other civil penalties.
What are the penalties for a non-compliance suspension?
The penalties escalate depending upon the number of non-compliance suspensions a person has within 5 years of the violation (the violation occurs on the date a person was required to have FR). The penalties include: A license suspension; a reinstatement fee; and a requirement that FR proof be filed and maintained with the BMV for a specified period of time (usually accomplished by the person submitting an SR-22 Certificate verifying FR to the BMV).
What triggers a non-compliance suspension?
There are events that trigger the non-compliance suspension and associated penalties. First, if a person gets a traffic ticket he is required to verify the existence of proof of FR (as of the time he was cited) to the officer who issued the ticket, the violations bureau (if paying by waiver of court appearance), or the court.
Second, if a person is in an accident where there is $400.00 or more in damage to property or injury, RC 4509.06 makes clear that failure to show proof of FR after an accident results in a non-compliance suspension. The driver of a vehicle which is involved in an accident can submit a report to the BMV on a BMV accident report form alleging that the driver or owner of another vehicle involved was uninsured (or did not have a FR Bond). The report must be submitted within 6 months of the accident. The BMV then sends a notice to the other owner or driver requiring him to submit proof of FR as of the time of the accident. If proof is not submitted, a non-compliance suspension is imposed unless it was already imposed due to a ticket arising out of the same incident. Importantly, the failure to respond with proof of FR in response to the notice triggers a separate security suspension.
How do you litigate a non-compliance suspension?
There are several ways to address and/or remedy the non-compliance suspension. The process begins when the BMV sends a person a notice which contains the order (imposing the suspension and other penalties) and an opportunity for a hearing. The notice informs a person of the date that the suspension begins and of his right to an administrative hearing before the BMV. It does not mention a person’s right to a court hearing under R.C. 4510.73.
If the driver had proof of FR at the time he was cited or involved in an accident but failed to prove it prior to receiving the order imposing the suspension, R.C 4509.101 permits the BMV or a court to terminate the order without a hearing upon a “late” showing of proof of FR on the applicable date.
R.C. 4509.101 (L) permits the BMV or a court to terminate the order imposing the suspension and other civil penalties with or without a hearing if it determines that the owner of the subject vehicle has shown by clear and convincing evidence that he: (1) customarily maintains proof of FR, and, (2) the lapse of coverage was caused by excusable neglect under circumstances unlikely to recur. This relief is only available once to a person.
The scope of an administrative hearing, or a court hearing under R.C. 4510.73, is limited for the most part to whether a person can show proof FR existed on the subject date, whether a person is exempt from showing proof of FR on the subject date under one of the statutory exceptions contained in R.C. 4509.101, or whether a person is eligible for relief due to excusable neglect.
Finally, Ohio law permits a court to grant LDP’s to a person who is under a non-compliance suspension (subject to the applicable waiting period set forth in R.C. 4509.101).