Ohio Administrative License Suspension Requires Arrest

R.W. lay in the hospital bed waiting for his injuries to be treated. A police officer came in the room and said she wanted to talk with him about the accident. The officer read to him the B.M.V. 2255 form regarding the consequences of taking and refusing the blood test. She asked him to submit to a blood test, and he refused. The officer wrote him a ticket for O.V.I. (D.U.I.) and imposed a one-year Administrative License Suspension (A.L.S.); the consequence for refusing the blood test.

We filed a motion to terminate R.W.’s A.L.S. At the hearing on our motion, the officer testified that she did not handcuff R.W. and did not intend to actually arrest him. She only intended to question him, request a blood sample, and write him a ticket. We argued that, based on the recent case of State v. Whitt, the judge should terminate R.W.’s A.L.S.

State v. Whitt was decided in August of 2010 by the Fifth District Court of Appeals. The facts of the Whitt case are nearly identical to the facts in R.W.’s case. In Whitt, the court reviewed the legislative language related to A.L.S. and concluded that an “arrest” is necessary before an A.L.S. can be imposed. In the Whitt case, the issue was whether the defendant’s submission to the blood test was coerced. The officer told Whitt the consequences of refusing a test (an A.L.S.), but those consequences couldn’t really be imposed; there could not be an A.L.S. because there was no arrest. The Court in the Whitt case concluded that the defendant’s submission to the blood test was therefore coerced and consequently inadmissible.

In R.W.’s hearing, the prosecutor argued that R.W. was arrested, so the A.L.S. should not be terminated. The judge, however, concluded otherwise. R.W.’s A.L.S. was terminated, and R.W. got his license back that day.