A shocking percentage of eligible drivers in North Central Ohio have been forced off the road due to suspended driver’s licenses.
Data compiled by the USA Today network in Ohio shows that more than 15,000 people who live along the US 30 corridor in Ashland, Richland and Crawford counties currently have their driving privileges suspended.
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These suspensions are very expensive and prevent people from living their full potential, according to Adam Stone, a defense attorney who practices law in north-central Ohio.
“Depending on how many suspended licenses you’ve had in the past, you may end up going to jail,” Stone said. “That would set you back even further.”
Ranked high in the state
Crawford County has the highest rate of suspended drivers in the region.
The county has 33,524 residents aged 16 and over. Among them, 3,596 have suspended their driver’s license.
That’s 10.73% of the county’s driving-age residents who are suspended. This percentage ranks the county 24th among the state’s 88 counties.
Richland County has a population of 97,906 people of driving age, of which 9,385 have suspended licenses.
The suspension rate of 9.59% ranks the county 32nd in Buckeye State.
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Ashland County is home to 43,029 people ages 16 and older. Only 2,488 had their licenses suspended.
That’s 5.78% of potential drivers who have suspensions, a percentage that ranks the county 77th in the state.
Driving privileges held hostage by the courts
Lawyers said the numbers are so high because the right to drive is held hostage by the justice system for so many non-driving offences.
“You don’t pay your child support, your license is suspended,” Stone said. “You are convicted of a drug-related crime, your license is suspended.”
The chances of having a license suspended are so great that almost every case handled by the attorney involves a client’s right to drive a vehicle.
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“It’s one of those things I expect,” Stone said. “When I see a traffic violation, I look at the list to see where it hangs.”
Some of his clients expect to lose their license for a little while, such as those who have had an OVI or other major driving charge against their record. But for others, it’s a complete surprise.
“If you get pulled over and are a day behind on your car insurance payment, you lose your license,” Stone said.
He has even seen some people forget their court date for a citation, only to have their license suspended without their knowledge.
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“You have to know, and you usually don’t know until you’re arrested,” Stone said.
It costs over $400 to retrieve this license, plus other fees and penalties associated with the customer’s case.
“It gets really tough,” Stone said.
Luckily, a judge can grant someone business driving privileges so they can pay their bills throughout their case, but clients still have to find a way to get to the city where their suspension ended. took effect.
“The court can’t just unilaterally give someone back their license,” Stone said. “The BMV has to do this.”