By on August 22, 2018

Last week’s QOTD post about states and their respective license plates generated a few comments about a particular plate issued by the state of Ohio. In today’s question, we dive a little deeper and focus solely on this Ohio plate, which just happens to be more unique than every other license plate in use today.

The plate in question is the mustard yellow one seen above. It looks nothing like the other license plates of Ohio, and that’s because it’s only available to a particular type of criminal offender. Introduced back in 1967, Ohio’s OVI (Operating a Vehicle Impaired) plates were designed as a scarlet letter for those convicted of OVI offenses.

Though they create a way to identify offenders in everyday traffic, use of the plates remained fairly limited for decades. Plates were assigned individually, and only at the discretion of a judge. The state of Ohio took notice, deciding it wanted to see expanded use of the special plates, and on January 1st, 2014, it altered the OVI legislation. Plates became mandatory for OVI offenders on their second occurrence, and also in instances where an offender’s BAC was over two times the legal driving limit.

After the OVI conviction, a driver can apply for a restricted driver’s license that requires use of the yellow OVI plate, commonly called “party plates,” within the state. The standard time requirement for carrying the plates is six months to a year. Ohio is unique in this special plate usage. While two other states (Georgia and Minnesota) can add an additional letter to an OVI offender’s plate, Ohio is the only one with an entirely different OVI plate design.

Those in favor of the special plate argue the pressure and embarrassment achieved by its usage is a good deterrent for OVI offenders, who are very inclined to become repeat offenders. The plates identify drivers who need to be watched in traffic by other motorists and police.

Those against the plate argue they unfairly shame offenders for past crimes, make them a target for police on the road, and an outcast in the employee parking lot. The plate punishes repeat offenders the same as severe first-time offenders. There’s also some collateral damage, in the shaming of passengers in a car wearing OVI plates.

As mentioned, Ohio is out there on their own on this one — no other states have followed Ohio’s example in over 50 years. As a resident of Ohio, I’ve seen these plates in use on many occasions. They’re pretty noticeable. Are these special OVI plates something other states would do well to mimic, or is Ohio off the rails on this one?

Off to you, B&B.

[Images: Ohio.gov]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

65 Comments on “QOTD: The State of a Scarlet Letter?...”


  • avatar
    Syke

    One big question: Once you’ve been issued said plate, is it permanent, or can you go back to a regular plate after X number of years driving sober?

    While I can see the necessity of this, I also see people who have sobered up for the remainder of their lives. (Starting with my late wife, and my sister-in-law, both cold turkeying). Stigma is stigma, and shouldn’t be continued after it no longer applies.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I firmly believe that a fulfilled punishment should be in the past, including one for murder. An ex-con shouldn’t be shamed or experience a cultural life sentence from the public when the legal system didn’t require it.

    Yes, I know, certain crimes have much higher rates of recidivism (sex crimes for one) – and maybe they should be handled differently – but short of a life sentence, for me time served should be the end of it.

    The United States stands as – among other things – a place for a fresh start. That doesn’t mean we forget the past, or treat it like it didn’t happen.

    And yes, I support the death penalty.

    Corey – thanks for the time clarification. 6 to 12 months doesn’t seem too terrible, since that probably is the window of greatest risk for repeating the DUI. But others would know the numbers better.
    It isn’t much different than requiring a breathalyzer ignition lock.

  • avatar
    arach

    The funniest thing is when people from New York drive through Ohio and wonder why everyone treats them oddly.

    NY has a similar plate for normal people… but drive into Ohio and these New York Drivers are identified as Drunk Drivers… haha.

    I love the plates, and I’ve reported multiple DRUNK DRIVERS driving with these plates. One guy was driving in the freaking berm.

    I love the scarlet letter idea. I think people with a DUI should lose their license for life. If your going to put me and my family at serious risk and you can’t handle a car without turning it into a weapon, you don’t deserve the right to drive. But since our gov’t has no guts and lets these terrorists loose on the street, at least brand them as the undesireables they are.

    I do know someone who got one. he bought a junker of a car that he put in his back yard. thats where the plate sits. His DD is a lifted brodozer, and it doesn’t have them.

    • 0 avatar

      He must have that truck registered to someone else. An easy workaround.

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      arach

      OOOOOH please. For life? Really?

      Data shows playing with your phone reduces your driving skill to that of a DUI driver. 30%+ of the drivers i see are on the F ing phone.

      What about that?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Simple solution: Death or exile.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        If your texting on your phone and you crash and kill people, you should also lose your license for life.

        Driving is a privilege, not a right. Driving drunk or driving impaired and killing people is not OK. If you can’t drive responsibly, you should not have a right to drive… and driving drunk or impaired is clearly not driving responsibly.

        At least lose your license for some number of years until you can mature and get yourself straight. I’m about forgiving, but the fact that some people get 12-14 DUIs and are still driving is insane. In ohio, no one gets that plate on their first DUI, most of them have multiple DUIs before they get “branded”. You think if someone got stopped by police carrying a gun around firing it at innocent people 14 times they’d still be walking the street?

        10,497 people were killed in 2016 in the united states by people with an illegal BAC. Over 10,000 murdered by people who think partying is more important than the lives of others?

        These stats come from the CDC.

        Making stricter laws would save thousands of lives. You can party all you want, but don’t murder my family just because you refuse to be responsible.

        I really don’t think that is an extreme view!

        • 0 avatar
          chuckrs

          There are 33000 gun deaths in the US in a year (2015 statistic – look up the WaPo article on gun control). 22000 of them are suicide. The rest are about the same magnitude as DUI homicides cited by arach. (You can call it what you want, but no harm, no foul doesn’t apply).
          The crime is not in the past any more than it is while someone is in prison, home confinement or on parole. It is in fact part of the sentence to be served.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      “And what do we burn besides witches?”

      “DRUNK DRIVERS!”

    • 0 avatar
      ravenuer

      I’ve always said: you don’t need a license, insurance or any of that stuff to drive a car……just the keys.

  • avatar
    Funky

    Cruel and unusual punishment can take many forms. Might as well lock them into a pillory for a short period of time and get the punishment over with. Ongoing continuous public humiliation such as this plate, is much more cruel, I believe.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

      As a resident of a state with a nationally known DUI problem, I absolutely believe repeat* offenders deserve all the “cruel” public humiliation they receive.

      *I’m willing to grant a first time DUI arrest could be a mistake, but twice indicates the emergence of a pattern that must be halted quickly. Do it more than 3-4 times and I think you just need to be shot in the head.

      • 0 avatar
        xtoyota

        You must be from Wisconsin :=0

      • 0 avatar
        Funky

        I’ve lost both family and friends to drunk drivers. Yellow plates would not have helped them to avoid their head-on collisions. Nor will they bring them back from the dead. Breathalyzers on the ignition switches would have helped. Police who answered the calls from motorists complaining about the goofballs driving the wrong way down the four lane road would have helped. Bar owners responsibly not serving too much alcohol to their patrons would have helped. In one case, putting a multiple offender into jail for a couple years would have helped. But, no, goofy yellow plates that provide ongoing public humiliation would not have helped.

        • 0 avatar
          Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

          I’m genuinely sorry for your losses. That is why I suggested the “shot in the head” option for behaviors insufficiently thwarted by public humiliation.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Consider this as well. A DUI is often the result of an underposted BAC limit.

        There’s a difference between Intoxication and Impairment. You can be one, but not necessarily the other.

        How many frat douches have to slam an entire case of Beast Ice before it affects them?

        How many lightweights are out after two Buds?

        So let’s not throw all DUIs into the same lake of fire. Some people are the victims of an unreasonable law.

        • 0 avatar
          Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

          Nope, OneAlpha. Sorry. Reasonable people learn to adjust their behavior in such circumstances, “unreasonable” law or no.

          Besides, are you somehow more comfortable sharing the road with drivers that are “only” impaired?

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Agree with Miata Man. And sincere condolences to ‘Funky’.

          • 0 avatar
            OneAlpha

            Impairment is what matters.

            Whether it’s caused by drink or old age, you shouldn’t be driving if you’re impaired.

            But you can be intoxicated without being impaired.

          • 0 avatar
            Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

            It may be splitting hairs, but intoxication implies to me a greater loss of a person’s faculties than impairment. And your reaction time and decision-making abilities can (will) be compromised while intoxicated even if you may not appear outwardly to be impaired.

        • 0 avatar
          Prove your humanity: 9 + 8 =

          Any amount of alcohol affects the driver’s judgement, reaction time, coordination and mood. If it didn’t, no one would bother to drink such nasty stuff.
          Three drinks will not take the average person over the .08% limit, but will certainly affect their ability to drive.
          If you disagree, it’s time to take a serious look at your drinking habits and faulty rationalization.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          A few weeks ago, I called 911 for the first time in years. The reason was a black Tundra I was following along a crowded city street: it was weaving in and out of lanes, occasionally speeding up to as much as 60 mph (in a 25 zone), passing cars in the left turn lane, and running red lights.

          A police officer called me back to get more information and implied, without saying so outright, that I had reported a well-known repeat offender.

          I’d bet dollars to donuts the driver of that pickup thinks like OneAlpha.

          • 0 avatar
            Erikstrawn

            “I’d bet dollars to donuts the driver of that pickup thinks like OneAlpha.” That’s a purposely divisive statement.

            OneAlpha isn’t wrong, but until science develops a way to measure impairment instead of intoxication, we have to use intoxication. It’s pretty easy to avoid a DUI. Drink at home or have a ride. I have a friend who has a monthly Uber expenditure budgeted so he and his wife can go out drinking.

            Don’t blame the system when you can avoid trouble by acting responsibly. Also realize that some people will always act irresponsibly and there needs to be reasonable punishment.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            “OneAlpha isn’t wrong”

            Yes, he is. If you are intoxicated beyond a very low base level, you are impaired. Your reaction times are slower, your spatial awareness isn’t as good, your balance isn’t as good. Different people may react at different levels, but absolutely no one is unimpaired at .08, and people who think they are are overconfidently delusional.

  • avatar
    ravenuer

    I don’t know the % of offenders who sober up and stay that way as opposed to those that don’t, but my impression is a significant number are the latter. Therefore, I’m all for the yellow plates. I wasn’t even aware any state did this.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    God, I hate Ohio. This might be a good idea, but I just can’t see far enough past my dislike of that awful state to consider the relative merits.

    I only like two things that come from Ohio: the Honda Accord, and Jack Baruth.

  • avatar
    ptschett

    ?? The MN “whiskey” plates are plain white/black where the standard issue has graphics, and the format is WA1234 instead of the standard 123 ABC format. (I live in Fargo, I see MN plates all the time.)

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Minnesota is back to the AAA111 format (we have ro replace ours every 7 years), but the Whiskey plates are always a dead ringer. I think part of the penalty is having to pay the plate fee for the new plates and then pay again when your privilege to carry standard plates is restored.

      The whiskey plates, as far as I know, entitle an officer to pull a driver over at any time for any reason.

  • avatar
    JK43123

    Driving is a priv8lege. If you abuse that privilege you should be punished. I think we need more of this sort of thing, if it is shaming then good, be ashamed. You should be. You risked people’s lives.

    BTW I never see these any more so I thought Ohio had stopped. Leave it to Ohio to be the only one!

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    I like that you don’t get the tags for a simple OMVI…it has to be your second offense OR you have to blow a .16 or higher.

    According to NHTSA, the average BAC in a fatal accident involving alcohol is .17.

  • avatar
    Dan

    I’m all for public shaming of scumbags. Of all the scumbags in the world the drunks are pretty low on the list but you gotta start somewhere.

    Now bring on the welfare plates!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The scumbag to non-scumbag ratio is too high for adequate shaming, IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      Speaking of that idea, since getting in trouble with the law is a badge of honor in poor communities, I suggest that in lieu of jail time – and the street cred that comes with it – public shaming should be the first choice of punishment for the lower classes when they go before a judge.

      Maybe LaShawn will stop selling weed and Brandon will stop driving drunk if they both have to, say, walk around town naked wearing pink feathers if they get busted.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    Tom: “Hey Harry, can I borrow your car today?”

    Harry: “Sorry, I need it.”

    Dick: “Tom, you can borrow my car.”

    Tom: “Er, uh, no, that’s okay, I, uh, I can’t drive an automatic.”

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I would be against this except for the fact that it is only for repeat offenders if I read that correctly. So first offense, you don’t get publicly shamed, second and so on …..equals public shame.

    It is horribly embarrassing for the owner of such a plate, but they have an alternative. Don’t drink and drive….or…..don’t drive anymore.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    “Those against the plate argue they unfairly shame offenders for past crimes, make them a target for police on the road, and an outcast in the employee parking lot.”

    Yes. Exactly. They should be branded for life as far as I’m concerned so we can spot them on the road and stay clear.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Can you get them personalized? How about “drunk?” or “boozedup?” or “livergone” or “watchout” or “reefermad”.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    I don’t see a problem with it as long as there’s a recourse to get them removed after 10 years without major traffic offenses (more severe than seatbelt or 10-over violations).

    And now onto writing style…

    “…happens to be more unique than every other…”

    You’re aware that the state of being unique is binary. Either something is the only one of its kind or it isn’t. There aren’t varying grades of uniqueness.

    • 0 avatar
      Ugliest1

      “You’re aware that the state of being unique is binary. Either something is the only one of its kind or it isn’t. There aren’t varying grades of uniqueness.”

      Yeah. Except remember YOU are unique, just like everyone else.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The OVI plate for OHIO is dangerously close to NM standard yellow with red lettering plate.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Is there any evidence that these have had any effect on lowering the DUI rate? That might be a good place to start as to whether or not they’re justified.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      From what I understand, Ohio refuses to actually revoke drivers’ licenses for DUI convictions on the theory that unemployed people can’t pay fines.

      So much for public safety.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    OVI – Operating a Vehicle Impaired.

    So, Ohio will be issuing these plates to old geezers with cataracts and the reflexes of a houseplant?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @cognoscenti–I am no big fan of Ohio either even though I was born in Dayton OH. My family moved from Ohio to Texas when I was 6. I do give credit to the Wright brothers. I don’t disagree about these plates as long as they are not permanent for those who have sobered up. My question is does Ohio apply these plates to convicted heroin and meth users as well? There have been a number of serious car accidents caused by drivers on drugs. Also how come Ohio does not have a law against texting while driving? Kentucky passed a law a few years ago making it illegal to text and drive.

  • avatar
    Steve Lynch

    Where is the state’s motto/slogan?

    How about:

    Ohio: Gateway to Indiana.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      And the only reason to go into Indiana is because that’s how you get to Chicago.

      • 0 avatar
        road_pizza

        Make sure you wear your Kevlar when you enter Chicago.

        • 0 avatar
          Funky

          When I was in Chicago, everything seemed very nice. I walked everywhere I had to go. There were many families with children walking on the sidewalks, the traffic wasn’t terrible, the sidewalks and streets were very clean. Somebody was nice enough to help me when I had trouble accessing one of the glass enclosed automatic banking machines. From my perspective, it really seemed like a nice place. But, then again, I didn’t venture more than a few blocks from my hotel so I guess I didn’t get the full experience.

          • 0 avatar

            “…the traffic wasn’t terrible…”

            Are you sure you were in CHICAGO and not like CHARLOTTE?

            Bekuz Chicago traffic is a hot mess between 6AM and 10PM, every day.

          • 0 avatar
            Funky

            It really was very nice. I should have been more specific about the traffic and should have mentioned that we ran into traffic on the way out of the city (on the highway or beltway or whatever it was) as well as on the way in. On the way out we unfortunately were in late afternoon rush hour. On the way in we arrived on a weekend, also with some traffic. But it wasn’t bad once we arrived, especially in the vicinity of the hotel. The area around the hotel was very calm and subdued and it was without a lot of traffic. I was surprised. I did a fair amount of walking around and I had a good view from the room of some of the roads around the hotel (when boredom set in, when I was waiting in the room, I stared out the window). And, the traffic was light. But, of course, that’s just my subjective opinion and maybe I thought it was light because my expectation was that it would be extremely heavy and continuous, which it was not. Overall, it was a nice place to be.

  • avatar
    johnds

    Minnesota has a DUI/DWI plate as well. White with black lettering and they start with the letter “W”. They are nicknamed the Whiskey plate. So 2 states have them, not just OHIO.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Minnesota’s whiskey plates are different than the standard plate or special edition plates. Whiskey plates start with a “W” followed by one letter and four numbers in black text on a white background. Standard plates are three numbers/three letters with an outline of the State in between in blue text on a lake scene background.

  • avatar
    road_pizza

    As a 55yr old lifelong resident of Ohio I have no problem whatsoever with these plates and the embarrassment that comes with them. Don’t like the shaming? Tough sh*t, don’t get DUI’s. We have sexual offender registers yet no one cares that we “shame” them (which of course they deserve) yet some don’t think it’s right to “shame” drunk drivers?

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      Exactly! If you are numbskulled enough to get a second DUI type conviction, you ARE a problem and shamed or not, you should be identified as the dumb ass that you are. My sister’s first serious boyfriend, who died recently, was a many time DUI offender, who, if I had been in charge, would have had these plates on his car from about the age of 22 on for the remaining 44 years of his life.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ObviouslyCarGuru: Boy, a whole bunch of you poor babies heads are gonna explode when country hating politicians are...
  • stuki: Subpar infrastructure has always been a problem in third world countries.
  • SCE to AUX: “Anyone with a Tesla who cheers when the Blue Angels do a fly-by at a sports game should have to...
  • Hydromatic: Iraq proved the U.S. can knock around small armies with almost laughable ease, but chokes when faced with...
  • ToolGuy: OK, but when TVA was formed they put hands in a lot of pockets, and much more. Growing up, the dad next door...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States