You can discharge your Ohio BMV reinstatement fees in bankruptcy! That’s right. For the cost of hiring an Elyria Bankruptcy attorney you can get rid of your Ohio BMV reinstatement fees along with all your other bills. Sorry your fines, costs and restitution you might have run up getting the fees aren’t included.
Exactly what are Ohio BMV reinstatement fees anyway? In 1980 Ohio came up with a great idea. If someone has a license suspension or DUI they charge money to reinstate your driver’s license. It brings money into the State but it is not a tax. Great for the politicians, right? Who cares that it only takes about $10 for a clerk to push a button on the computer to do the job?
The fee started at $80 for a DUI, BAC, OVI, or an Administrative license suspension conviction. Over time it has increased to $600, and it adds up with each offense. Costs a lot to run a government in Ohio, and you get to pay for it.
Well, a bunch of young, hotshot DUI lawyers began to argue the reinstatement fee is a punishment, and it is illegal to punish someone more than once for the same crime. Elyria Bankruptcy Attorney Bill Balena was one of them. Remember double jeopardy? We thought we were helping our clients, but we were really putting siege ladders against the walls of the Ohio Treasury. The issue went all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court.
To no one’s surprise the top court of Ohio ruled that the fee was not a punishment. For those of you who keep track, they distinguished it from a penalty by saying it was remedial. It can be collected as well as convicting you for DUI, BAC, OVI, or a host of driving under suspension offenses. But since it was not a fine or a punishment you could then discharge Ohio BMV reinstatement fees in bankruptcy.
I was in Cleveland Bankruptcy Court one day when I heard an Assistant Ohio Attorney General arguing that an Ohio BMV reinstatement fee could not be discharged because it was a penalty just like a fine. Not one to be timid, Elyria Bankruptcy Attorney Bill Balena waded into the fray and reminded him that they successfully argued it was not a penalty before the Ohio Supreme Court. I asked him if the State of Ohio wanted it both ways now. The Bankruptcy Court ruled it was dischargeable.
In 2004 the State of Ohio added dischargeability of reinstatement fees to the Ohio Revised Code.
Sometimes Ohio BMV reinstatement fees add up to many thousands of dollars. I defended a man in Elyria Municipal Court who owes more that $12,000.00 in reinstatement fees alone. He can file for bankruptcy and clear up his bills and discharge his Ohio BMV Reinstatement fees to get his driver’s license back. So can you.