Ohio’s DUI laws (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) criminalize driving with a prohibited breath alcohol concentration. To determine whether a person has a prohibited breath alcohol concentration, law enforcement officers use breath-testing machines. If a person refuses a breath test, there are consequences. However, differences in height, age, gender, and smoking habits make some people physically unable to provide a sufficient breath sample. As a result, some people are accused of refusing a breath test when they didn’t.
The Chikushino Police Department has a program in which driving instructors test the driving skills of volunteers who are under the influence of alcohol. According to a CNN article, testing impaired drivers is part of a drunk driving awareness campaign. In Ohio, we do not use drunk driving exams to determine if drivers are impaired by alcohol or drugs. Instead, we use field sobriety tests and blood/breath/urine tests. Those tests are circumstantial evidence that a person was operating a vehicle under the influence.
I recently came across this article in an Ohio newspaper: Judge Denies Motion to Suppress Evidence. What does that mean in a DUI case (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio)? When a judge orders that evidence is suppressed, the evidence is excluded from trial. That means, even though the evidence existed, the jury does not hear about it. The two general bases for suppressing evidence are: (1) violations of the defendant’s Constitutional rights; and (2) the government’s failure to comply with statutory (legislative) law.
In November of 2022, an article in this blog reported the state of Ohio intends to use oral fluid testing in the future. The future is here. When NBC4 reported on the Traffic Safety Council’s recommendation of oral fluid testing for DUI cases (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio), the Ohio Department of Health had already passed new regulations which add oral fluid to the bodily substances which may be tested. Those regulations became effective on January 23, 2023.
We’ve used this space in the past to discuss issues with Ohio’s approach to DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) cases involving marijuana. The rising prevalence of marijuana OVIs following Ohio’s legalization of medical marijuana has shown Ohio’s OVI laws are woefully out-of-date to deal with these issues. A recent bill in the Ohio Senate seeks to update the way the law treats marijuana OVIs. This bill, if passed, would have a profound impact on the way marijuana OVI cases are charged, handled by courts, and defended by OVI defense attorneys.
According to a news report by NBC4 Columbus, the state of Ohio intends to use oral fluid testing to obtain evidence of drugged driving. In the video from NBC4, the Ohio Traffic Safety Council indicates there are increasing numbers of crashes caused by drug-impaired drivers. To combat this problem, the Traffic Safety Council recommends that law enforcement agencies implement oral fluid testing. This testing method has some advantages over currently used drug tests, but it also has drawbacks.
In DUI cases (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio), a defendant is sometimes charged with two OVI charges. One charge is OVI ‘impaired’, based on operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The other charge is OVI ‘per se’, based on operating a vehicle with a prohibited concentration of alcohol and/or drugs in the driver’s breath, blood, or urine. In cases involving blood and urine tests, the charge of OVI ‘per se’ is often filed weeks or months after the charge of OVI ‘impaired’ is filed, as law enforcement waits to file the ‘per se’ charge until after receiving the results of the blood/urine test.
In those cases, when does the speedy trial clock start for the later-filed charge of OVI ‘per se’? Is it when the original charge was filed, when the test results were received, or when the second charge is filed? That question was recently answered by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Suppose a person is charged with DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) and that person previously refused an alcohol/drug test when arrested for OVI. Can that person’s sentence be enhanced for the current OVI based on the prior refusal? This question was recently addressed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In Ohio, this question is addressed in the Ohio OVI statutes. The Ohio OVI statutes are nuanced and do provide consequences for prior convictions and test refusals.
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.
Police officers in Georgia are being trained to draw blood from drivers suspected of DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio). Typically, a person arrested for OVI in Ohio is taken to a police station for a breath test or urine test. Occasionally, an OVI suspect is taken to a hospital for a blood test. In Georgia, DUI suspects will now have their blood drawn by police officers. Could we soon have police officers drawing blood from OVI suspects in Ohio?