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.
The ever-growing number of states which have legalized either medical marijuana or recreational marijuana has created a number of issues for law enforcement and the justice system. Chief among those issues is the challenge of enforcing laws against operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana. In an effort to overcome this challenge, the Norwegian company Drauger developed the DrugTest 5000. This system uses a mouth swab, taken roadside, to help determine if a driver is under the influence of marijuana or other drugs. The DrugTest 5000 has been in use in Norway since 2015 and has seen growing use in the United States. This test, however, is probably not the solution for law enforcement’s problems.
If you think about the consequences of getting a DUI (called OVI in Ohio), the first thing which comes to mind is probably the sentence from the court. There is good reason for that: the sentence includes a mandatory jail term, license suspension, and fine as well as possible yellow plates, ignition interlock, and probation. In addition to the sentence imposed by the judge, however, there are collateral consequences for DUI/OVI convictions. One of those consequences is skyrocketing auto insurance premiums.
Some people can’t resist. After having drinks, they get a craving, and they have to satisfy it. For some, it’s tacos or wings. For others, it’s burgers and fries. It’s typically not broccoli and kale. And then they go to a drive-thru when perhaps they shouldn’t be driving, and they end-up arrested for DUI/OVI. Two recent news-making DUI arrests demonstrate the danger of caving to cravings and driving-thru instead of staying home.