Imagine you are totally sober, but your child’s daycare calls the police and reports you may be intoxicated. Imagine further the police make you perform field sobriety tests while your toddler is running around on the sidewalk. Now imagine you are prosecuted for DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) and Child Endangering and your child is taken away from you for two months, only for a blood test to show no alcohol or drugs, because you were totally sober. Katie Slayton does not have to imagine it: it happened to her. Her experience was the perfect storm of circumstances in a DUI/OVI investigation.
Can you get a DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) on a vehicle which is not motorized? Like many legal questions, the answer is, ‘maybe’. A person involved in a recent ‘pedal pub’ incident found out the hard way the answer is ‘yes’ when operating a mobile bar in Georgia. But what about Ohio?
The recent arrest of former U.S. Women’s Soccer goalie Hope Solo resulted in significant media coverage. As articles like this one from CNN reported, Solo was charged in North Carolina with DWI and Child Abuse. What North Carolina calls ‘DWI’, Ohio calls ‘OVI’. What North Carolina calls ‘Child Abuse’, Ohio calls ‘Child Endangering’. Solo’s reported incident illustrates what happens when a driver is accused of being under the influence with children in the vehicle.
Utah is apparently leading the way in traffic safety measures. This blog’s last article discussed Utah’s lowering of the ‘legal limit’ for blood alcohol concentration to .05. Now, Utah is working on a law which makes it illegal for an individual to be under the influence when using a vehicle’s driver assistance system. Under the new law, a driver cannot escape criminal liability for DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) by claiming they were not ‘driving’ the vehicle. The same is true in Ohio, without a new law.
We are in favor of government measures to reduce impaired driving. We are not in favor of the government providing misleading reports to the public about those measures. In 2019, Utah introduced a measure to reduce impaired driving: it lowered the ‘legal limit’ for driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) from .08 to .05. A recent press release from NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) reports that traffic deaths in Utah decreased when the state lowered its ‘legal limit’ to .05. The press release is misleading.
When I vacation in other states, people ask me where I’m from. When I say “Columbus”, I usually have to add “Ohio”. I have learned that very few people travel to Ohio for vacation. Some people do travel here for business and personal trips. Whether here for a business trip, a personal trip, or an improbable vacation, if a driver with a license issued by another state gets a DUI/OVI in Ohio, that person faces consequences in Ohio and may face consequences in the state which issued the driver’s license.
A driver may face up to two years in a German prison for driving at 257 mph on the Autobahn. Authorities allege he was driving carelessly at an inappropriate speed. In Ohio, we would call it reckless operation of a vehicle. But what constitutes reckless operation? Allegations of driving recklessly are sometimes made in the context of a DUI case (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio), and the issue of recklessness also arises in serious vehicular crimes, like Vehicular Homicide and Vehicular Assault. As our firm regularly deals with the element of recklessness, this speed-testing story piqued my interest. Continue Reading
Although it is starting to look like it, this is not a blog about NFL players charged with DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio). Recent articles discussed the cases of Henry Ruggs III and Geno Smith because those cases illustrated legal concepts related to DUI/OVI. The last article, about Geno Smith’s arrest, addressed what evidence indicates a driver may be under the influence before a traffic stop. In some DUI/OVI cases, traffic stops are not an issue, such as when the driver is in an accident or found passed-out behind the wheel. The legal concept at issue in those cases is when the driver is ‘seized’ and whether the seizure is legal. The case of Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Nate Hobbs illustrates that concept.
I heard a report that Geno Smith, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, was stopped for speeding and arrested on suspicion of DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio). My first thought was, “speeding doesn’t sound like evidence of DUI”. It turns out Smith was allegedly going 96 mph in a 60 mph zone and driving erratically across several lanes of traffic (according to ESPN). That sounds more like evidence of DUI. Geno Smith’s case prompts the question: “what evidence, before a stop, indicates a driver may be under the influence?”
Determining whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana is challenging. The standardized field sobriety tests used to predict alcohol levels are ineffective for marijuana intoxication. Levels of THC and its metabolites in blood and urine are not closely correlated with marijuana intoxication. So, how can law enforcement determine when THC is impairing a person’s ability to drive? Researchers are working on brain imaging technology which may offer a more reliable method for identifying impairment from marijuana intoxication.