On television police shows the patrol officer pulls a violator over and exclaims, “License, registration and insurance please.” Not in Ohio, that has never been the line. A driver of a motor vehicle in Ohio is required to provide a valid Operator’s license only. That’s it, no ticket for failing to provide a registration or proof of insurance. To provide these two items however can prevent a lot of hassle, so if you have them, produce them. Driving in Ohio is a privilege granted by the state, not a right.

So before you start arguing with the old sergeant, let me explain. Ohio does require a valid operator’s license be produced by a law enforcement officer when demanded. Failure to produce the license can result in a ticket. So let’s move on.

A registration is technically the license plates on your vehicle. The State of Ohio provides a paper certificate giving the registered owner’s name, address, type of vehicle, VIN and valid dates. Other information is on the registration which a LEO can use to identify that the vehicle is indeed the one that is legitimate. Once again there is no law requiring a driver produce the registration but if produced, the LEO will be able to identify the vehicle much quicker and get the violator on their way.

Let’s now discuss proof of insurance. Ohio only requires the owner of a motor vehicle to carry the minimum liability insurance or proof of financial responsibility. Liability insurance covers the costs of damage to other vehicles/property by your vehicle. It does not cover any damage done to your vehicle. If you want your vehicle covered as well then you need to purchase comprehensive insurance. In Ohio only liability insurance is required.

Should a citation be issued for a violation, the officer will check a little box telling the Court that financial responsibility was not shown. The Court will then demand proof of insurance was IN EFFECT AT THE TIME OF THE VIOLATION.

Should the violator not prove FR to the court, then a document is sent to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles who will then demand POI. Should valid insurance still not be proven, the BMV will suspend the vehicle’s owners driving privileges. Then the owner is subject to jail time, large fines, attorney fees, court fees, BMV fees and so on.

So what great system has Ohio instituted? Ohio sends out a letter. At random, Ohio sends a letter requiring the vehicle’s owner to prove insurance was in effect for a certain period of time. Where does this letter go? To the registered owner’s home address as it is shown on the registration form. If you have moved and don’t get the letter, your driving privileges will be suspended. Often the first time drivers learned they were under suspension was when stopped by a LEO and told of the suspension. Along with that information a DUS ticket is provided inviting you to a meeting with the judge. Then all the fun begins with jail time, large fines, attorney fees, court fees, BMV fees and so on. See last paragraph.

This week I got a random letter from my friends at the BMV. According to Ohio Revised Code Section Number 4509.101 I have 21 days to prove to them that I had valid insurance during a certain period. How do I do this? One of the following is required:

  1. By sending a copy of my insurance card
  2. By sending a copy of my insurance policy
  3. Having my insurance agent send all the information

If this is not done within the time period allotted, they will then suspend my driving privileges. So after copying my Insurance ID Card, putting it in the envelope, providing a stamp I sent it along hoping the BMV has not changed their address or the letter is lost in the mail. It seems like a lot of trouble for a privilege. Yet we have a lot of people being arrested for DUS anymore. When it comes to purchasing insurance or heroin, you don’t need me to tell you their obvious choice.

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