We’ve used this space in the past to discuss how the nationwide trend in marijuana legalization has impacted the enforcement of DUI laws (called ‘OVI in Ohio’). After last week’s election, 37 states plus Washington D.C. have now legalized marijuana in some fashion. While recreational use of marijuana has been decriminalized (but not legalized) in Ohio, medical marijuana has been legal here since 2016. What does this mean for marijuana DUI charges? Could changes to Ohio’s OVI laws be on the horizon?
Technological advances in law enforcement must be reconciled with an individual’s right to due process of law. In DUI cases (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio), technology is used to determine the level of alcohol in a person’s breath. In other traffic cases, video cameras are used to determine speed limit violations. The fairness of the speed camera citation process was an abstract idea for me…until I received a citation. I learned that, if I wanted to appeal the citation, my appeal would be heard by a hearing officer from the city police department and not a judicial officer. The legality of this process was recently addressed by the Ohio Supreme Court and is now being challenged again.
Most states now have some form of legalized marijuana. Thirty-four states (as well as D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico) have medical marijuana programs, and ten states permit recreational marijuana use. The states with recreational marijuana have questioned whether marijuana legalization results in more traffic accidents. According to a recent article in the USA Today, the answer seems to be ‘no’. Nevertheless, Ohio aggressively enforces a flawed marijuana DUI law (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio).
A semi rolled-over and spilled about 11,000 salmon onto the highway. As the fish flopped around on the road, the truck driver was charged with DUI. But it turned-out he had ‘auto-brewery syndrome’, a condition in which his body makes its own alcohol. This condition is rare but has been identified many times. For a person charged with DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) who drank no alcohol, auto-brewery syndrome may be responsible.
In my experience as a criminal defense attorney, I have seen countless cases which began as simple traffic stops but escalated quickly into something far more complicated. Those more complicated cases often result from the officer searching my client’s vehicle and finding something illegal. Frequently, the officer’s search is based on the driver’s consent to the search. But what if the officer asks to search the vehicle and the driver doesn’t explicitly say yes or no? This question was answered in a recent appellate decision, and the answer can impact Ohio DUI/OVI cases.
Over the past few months, courts in Central Ohio took a variety of steps to deal with the unprecedented challenges presented by the Coronavirus Pandemic. As the State of Ohio moves toward ‘reopening’ in this new reality, central Ohio courts are beginning to release plans on how they will operate in a way which will minimize the risk to court personnel, judges, attorneys and others with business before the court. Some courts have decided to publish their plans for reopening even before the release of the Supreme Court’s guidelines. Not every court has released such plans yet, so we will update this post as more information becomes available.
Updated April 10, 2020
The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a profound effect on nearly every aspect of American society. From closing schools, bars and restaurants to banning public gatherings over a certain size, Ohio has followed expert advice to keep people physically separated as much as possible. To reflect this new reality, and to encourage social distancing, most courts in central Ohio are implementing changes, including limitations on court appearances. Below are the specific changes being implemented by the central Ohio courts in which the Dominy Law Firm practices.
It makes the roads safer, except when it makes the roads more dangerous. It’s a fair consequence for a person convicted of DUI/OVI, except when it’s unfair. The ignition interlock device has been used increasingly by Ohio and most other states to prevent drunk driving. As illustrated by a recent article in The New York Times, the device intended to encourage safe roads and fair punishment has actually caused accidents and unjust punishments. What should Ohio do?
You may be more of a target than you think. When you think about people arrested for drunk driving, do you picture a car driving erratically all over the road? That’s a common misconception. Most stops resulting in DUI/OVI charges are for minor offenses: failing to signal, driving a little over the speed limit, crossing a lane line one time. Some are even for non-moving violations: burned-out headlight, no license plate light, expired registration. A case decided last week by the Ohio Supreme Court illustrates how a minor violation can lead to more serious charges.
The consequences of an OVI/DUI conviction can go well beyond the fines, jail time, and license suspensions imposed by a Judge. Collateral effects like higher insurance premiums and lost employment opportunities can follow someone well after their case has been resolved in court. Some states, even notoriously tough-on-crime states like Texas, allow first-time OVI/DUI offenders to avoid the long term consequences of a conviction by completing a pretrial diversion program.