When can traffic offenses be sealed and expunged in Ohio?
As an Ohio lawyer who focuses on Expungement and Sealing of criminal records, people often ask me if they can seal / expunge traffic offenses. It used to be that the answer to this question was simply, “No.” But due to some changes to the Ohio Expungement Law by Senate Bill 143, a traffic conviction may be now expunged and sealed under certain circumstances.
As a general rule, a conviction for a traffic violation cannot be expunged. But the new expungement law (O.R.C. 2953.61) provides an exception to this general rule. Now, Ohio law allows a single traffic offense to be sealed / expunged when: 1) it occurred at the same time as a criminal charge; and 2) that criminal charge was later dismissed by the court; and 3) the dismissed criminal charge is eligible for expungement. (Please note: this exception does not apply if the traffic conviction is for DUI/OVI – 4511.19 or Physical Control of Vehicle Under the Influence – 4511.194.)
As a result of this change in Ohio Record Sealing Law, when a person has a criminal charge that was dismissed and they also had a traffic conviction that occurred out of the same case as the dismissed criminal charge, that person can now seal and expunge both the dismissed criminal charge and the traffic conviction. The court will count the entire case, the traffic conviction and the dismissed criminal charge, as one case and expunge and seal both at the same time. This was not permitted under the previous version of the expungement statute.
Here is an Example of how the new law applies:
- John is pulled over for a speeding (or other routine traffic offense). The Police discover marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his car. John receives a traffic citation for speeding, and criminal charges for minor misdemeanor possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. At court, John pleads guilty to the traffic offense of speeding, and the criminal charges of possession and drug paraphernalia are dismissed. John can later return to the court and file for an application for expungement / sealing of the criminal records for the dismissed charges and the speeding conviction.
- Bob is pulled over for stop sign violation. The police discover stolen items in his car. Bob is cited for the traffic violation for Stop Sign, and criminal charges of felony Receiving Stolen Property (“RSP”) and misdemeanor Theft. Bob pleads guilty to the stop sign violation but defends against criminal Charge of RSP. Bob wins and is found Not Guilty of the criminal charges at trial. Bob can later file an application for sealing and expungement of the criminal record of the charges for RSP and the Stop Sign conviction.
While this is only a summary, there are other conditions and circumstances under the new statute that can affect a person’s application for expungement. It is advisable that you seek the advice of an Expungement Attorney legal counsel to be assured you will be successful and receive the benefits of an expungement.
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Our law firm emphasizes expungement and sealing of criminal records in Ohio. We have been in business and located in central Ohio since 1988. We know Ohio laws related to Sealing of Criminal Record and Expungement. As trial attorneys and former prosecutors, we have the knowledge and experience to have your criminal record sealed. We handle cases in all 88 counties of Ohio.
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