New bill changes some traffic laws

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 3, 2004

Now that the new year is here, a new law will change the way traffic codes are referred to and enforced by law enforcement agencies in Ohio.

Senate Bill 123 took effect Jan. 1. The changes were recommended by the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission.

Differences include terminology changes, additional terminology, restricted license plate changes, point system adjustments and creates a new charge.

Email newsletter signup

"This is a huge traffic law reform," said Lt. Carl Roark, post commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Ironton Post. "It will not change how we do things, but it will change how things operate in the court systems for those who violate the laws."

"I think it will make the prosecution of the people we arrest more effective," Roark said.

The terminology Operating Vehicle Under the Influence (OVI) will be used instead of Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

The law adds one new charge - physical control. Offenders can now be charged with this when they are intoxicated and found in control of a vehicle, but not driving at that time, Roark said.

Now there is a specific charge for this situation. In the past, when this situation occurred the offender was usually charged with a DUI and the law enforcement agencies had to prove that the individual had operated the vehicle, he said.

The most visible change, as far as the public is concerned, will be that a few new colors will be added to some license plates, Roark said.

"One of the biggest changes the public will see because SB 123 is the license plates," Roark said. "They will see yellow and red on the plates that are issued to those with limited or restricted privileges."

Julie Hinds, public information officer for the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, said that each of the BMV's 216 agencies in the county were sent an additional 25 sets of restricted plates.

Though many of the northeastern counties issue many of these plates to DUI offenders, it should not be a big issue locally because there were none actively registered in Lawrence or Scioto counties as of Dec. 22, she said.

A change that will benefit some customers is the payment plan that has been implemented for paying fines and reinstatement fees during the suspension rather than waiting until afterwards and having to pay it in one lump sum, she said.

Another change is that the amount of points given for speeding is now tied directly to the speed over the limit.

If an offender is traveling one to 5 mph over a speed limit of less than 55 mph or one to 10 mph over a limit of 55 or higher, no points will be added to the driver's license.

If a driver exceeds a speed limit of less than 55 mph by six to nine mph or 11 to 29 mph over a limit of 55 mph, two points will be added.

Four points will be added for all speeding tickets that exceed 30 mph.