Improper Handling of a Firearm

In Ohio, there are stringent laws regarding transporting or possessing a firearm in a motor vehicle. The purpose of these regulations is to preserve the safety of law enforcement and the general public. An improper handling of a firearm charge can carry heavy penalties.

It is important to stay informed if you are charged with a firearm offense. The penalties regarding improper handling of a firearm have many factors involved, and can be daunting. An experienced firearm defense attorney can help you navigate and possibly reduce or dismiss your charges entirely.

Cincinnati Attorneys for Improper Handling of a Firearm, OH

Many people can find themselves with criminal charges for failing to transport their firearm legally. In some cases, the alleged offender's were not even aware of the laws set in place. However, Ohio is not kind to those convicted of improper handling of a firearm. An alleged offender may face large fines and even possible incarceration, if they do not have a sturdy defense for their case.

Stay informed and equipped for anything Ohio's legal system can throw at you. Call an attorney at Joslyn Law Firm today, and gain a legal partner that puts you first. The attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm are experienced, with over 20 years of collective experience in practicing Ohio law. Our firm prides itself on excellence. Attorney Brian Joslyn was ranked by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys as one of the 10 best criminal defense lawyers in Ohio. Do not hesitate or be overwhelmed by legal complexities. Call us at (513) 399-6289 to start your plan of defense today.

Joslyn Law Firm defends clients accused of firearm offenses throughout the greater Hamilton County area, including other communities such as Springfield, Cincinnati, Blue Ash, Montgomery, Batavia, Wilmington, Forest Park and Reading.

Submit an online contact form today, and schedule your fist consultation absolutely free.

Overview for Improper Handling of a Firearm in Ohio


Ohio Regulations for Handling Firearms in a Motor Vehicle

In Ohio, there are certain laws and procedures one must follow if they are transporting a firearm. This applies especially if you are a commercial driver or you encounter law enforcement. The following are rules and regulations for handling a firearm while in a motor vehicle.

Under Ohio law no person can knowingly:

  • Discharge a firearm in or on a motor vehicle;
  • Transport or have an accessible loaded firearm in a motor vehicle; or
  • Transport or have a firearm in a motor vehicle unless it is loaded and carried in the following ways:
    • In a closed package, box, or case;
    • In a compartment that can be reached when leaving the vehicle;
    • In plain sight and secured on a firearm rack or holder; or
    • In plain sight and the weapon is stripped.

Additionally, a person cannot knowingly transport and/or have a loaded handgun in a motor vehicle if any of the following apply:

  • He or she is under the influence of alcohol, drug of abuse, or a combination of the two; or
  • He or she has a blood, blood serum, plasma, breath, or urine that contains an illegal concentration of alcohol for operating a vehicle.

With concealed carry license holders, regulations and laws still apply. No licensed firearm holder or emergency license carrier can do any of the following:

  • Transport or have a loaded handgun without it secured in a holster, in plain sight, or securely encased in a closed and locked glove compartment;
  • Knowingly have contact, remove from the secured area such as a holster, or grasp the loaded handgun while they are operating the motor vehicle;
  • Choose to not inform law enforcement after a traffic stop that they are a licensed handgun holder and are currently carrying or transporting a loaded handgun;
  • Choose to not comply with any lawful order of any law enforcement officer given during a traffic stop while carrying or transporting a loaded handgun;
  • Choose to not remain in the motor vehicle while stopped with law enforcement during a traffic stop while carrying or transporting a loaded handgun;
  • Choose to not keep their hands in plain sight at any time after any law enforcement officer approaches during a traffic stop while carrying or transporting a loaded handgun; or
  • Choose to remove or attempt to remove, grasp, hold, or touch a loaded handgun from its holster, glove compartment or case during a traffic stop.

Long guns have different regulations than handguns. If a person wants to transport or carry a long gun in a motor vehicle he or she must stow the firearm in plain sight with the action open or the long guns stripped. If the firearm is the type where that the action will not stay open, then the carrier must keep it in plain sight.


Ohio Duties of a Concealed Handgun Licensee in a Motor Vehicle

Those who are licensed in carrying a concealed handgun must follow certain procedures when stopped by law enforcement for any reason. This is to protect the general public and law enforcement. If a person violates any of these regulations, they may lose their license and face legal consequences.

A licensed CCW holder must do the following when stopped by law enforcement for any reason:

  • Do not attempt to remove the concealed handgun from its location;
  • If requested to, hold the concealed handgun during the entire stop;
  • Comply with any sort of lawful order from law enforcement;
  • Inform law enforcement you are licensed in concealed carry and are currently carrying a concealed weapon; and
  • Keep your hands in plain sight at any time if approached by a law enforcement officer.

Exceptions under Ohio Law

There are certain exceptions when it comes to improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle. All of these types of locations and personnel are granted the authority to carry or transport a firearm as long as they are performing certain duties or traveling through certain areas.

  • Law Enforcement
    • Law enforcement officials are authorized to carry or transport loaded and accessible firearms in their motor vehicles, as long as they are acting within the scope of their officer duties.
  • Agriculture
    • A person may possess or have a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle if all of the following apply:
      • The motor vehicle is on real property located in an unincorporated area of township;
      • The real property is zoned agricultural or used for agriculture;
      • The person with the firearm owns the property, or is the tenant, spouse, or child of the owner of the property; and
      • The person with the firearm did not violate the law in transporting the firearm to their agricultural property.
  • Private Property
    • A person may possess or have a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle if all of the following apply:
      • Transported or had the firearm in the motor vehicle for a lawful purpose and while the motor vehicle was on the persons own property;
      • This defense is only viable if the alleged offender did not illegally transport or have the firearm in the motor vehicle immediately before arriving on their own property.
  • Hunting
    • If a person meets the follow requirements for hunting purposes they may transport or have a firearm in a motor vehicle as an exemption if they meet the following criteria:
      • Possess a valid electric all-purpose vehicle permit; and
      • The person is on or in the electric all-purpose vehicle or a motor vehicle during the open hunting season for a wild quadruped or game bird;
      • The person is on or in an electric all-purpose vehicle or a motor vehicle that is parked on a road that is owned or administrated by the division of wildlife.
  • Statehouse Parking
    • A person is not prohibited from possessing, storing, or leaving a firearm in a locked motor vehicle that is parked in the state underground parking garage at the state capitol building or in the parking garage at the Riffe center for government and the arts in Columbus. This only applies if the transportation and possession of the firearm in the motor vehicle to the premises of the facility was not violating any firearm laws.

Penalties for Improper Handling of a Firearm in Cincinnati, OH

The legal repercussions for improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle are reliant on the circumstances of the offense. Penalties for improperly handling a firearm can range from a misdemeanor of the fourth degree to a felony of the fourth degree.

A person who knowingly discharges a firearm in or on a motor vehicle will face a felony of the fourth degree. A fourth degree felony can incorporate a maximum fine of up to $5,000 and possibly up to 18 months in prison.

If a person does not secure his or her firearm in an appropriate place they will be charged with a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. Examples of an appropriate secured place can be a closed package, box, case, in a compartment that is reachable outside of the vehicle, or in plain sight on a rack or holder. The penalties for a fourth degree misdemeanor include a maximum fine up to $250 and possible jail time for up to 30 days.

Any person who is intoxicated or has an illegal alcohol concentration may face a felony of the fifth degree. In addition, if the firearm is concealed then the charge will be enhanced to a felony of the fourth degree. A fifth degree felony includes consequences of a maximum possible fine up to $2,500 and up to 12 months in prison.

If a concealed carry license holder does not inform law enforcement that they have a firearm, or keep their firearm within plain sight during a traffic stop, he or she will be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree. Additionally, the alleged offender will have their license immediately suspended. A first degree misdemeanor incorporates penalties of a maximum possible fine of up to $1,000 and potential jail time up to 180 days.

If a concealed carry license holder touches their firearm while a law enforcement office is approaching, he or she will be charged with a felony of the fifth degree. In addition, if a concealed license holder does not remain in the vehicle, keep their hands in plain sight, or fails to comply with a lawful order, he or she will be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Penalties for improperly handling a firearm do not stop here. Other instances or circumstances can result in various penalties or enhanced consequences depending on certain factors of the incident. It is important to get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle.


Additional Resources 

Safety Gun Laws - Visit the official website for National Rifle Administration Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA).  ILA is committed to preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Find more information regarding safety gun laws in Ohio, and gain access to gun laws in other states. 

Current Gun Laws - Visit the offical website for Innovation Ohio, the non-profit organization that promotes information regarding gun safety to policymakers, media, NRA allies, and the general public. Find more information surrounidng current gun laws in Ohio including background checks, red flag laws, and concealed carry laws. 


Lawyer for Improperly Handling a Firearm in Cincinnati, OH

Ohio is not kind to those who have been charged with improperly handling a firearm. A person charged with improperly handling a firearm may face hefty fines and even possible incarceration. It is important to be prepared for what is next, and have reliable legal representation on your side.

Joslyn Law Firm is a group of established criminal defense lawyers skilled at firearm offense-related cases. Our attorneys are practiced, with over 20 years of experience in Ohio's justice system. We understand the ins and outs of Ohio's firearm laws. Joslyn Law Firm has the resources and dedication to do what is necessary to gain the best possible outcome for your case. Do not enter this legal battle on your own. Have an reputable criminal defense attorney on your side today.

The attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm accept clients throughout the Southern District of Ohio including nearby counties including Batavia in Clermont County, Wilmington in Clinton County, Georgetown in Brown County, and Cincinnati in Hamilton County.

Call (513) 399-6289 or submit an online contact form to start your plan of defense today.


This article was last updated on August 20, 2018.