Ohio may need a new acronym for impaired driving. Our state has used various drunk driving abbreviations in the past. There was ‘DUI’ for Driving Under the Influence and then ‘OMVI’ for Operating a Motor Vehicle Intoxicated. Now that Ohio law does not require the vehicle to be motorized, we use ‘OVI’ for Operating a Vehicle under the Influence. In the future, the acronym may be ‘OVD’ for Operating a Vehicle Dehydrated. A study published in Physiology & Behavior suggests dehydrated driving is similar to intoxicated driving.
Some municipalities in Ohio have used unfair procedures for enforcing traffic violations detected by cameras. The Ohio General Assembly addressed that unfairness by creating a new process for traffic camera violations. Not all municipalities are following the new rules. Recently, a municipal court judge found the Village of Brice did not comply with the newly mandated rules. In an ironic twist, Brice complained to the Court of Appeals that the Village was denied due process in the municipal court proceeding.
There are many different ways somebody can find themselves as the subject of an OVI/DUI investigation. The most common is when an officer witnesses a driver commit a traffic offense, initiates a traffic stop, and then conducts an investigation based on their observations of the driver. Other times, an officer will conduct the traffic stop after receiving a tip from someone that a particular driver may be impaired. How precise do these tips need to be to justify a traffic stop? How much corroborating evidence does an officer need to corroborate the tip? The Ohio Supreme Court recently weighed in on these questions in State v. Tidwell.
Many people charged with DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio), especially those charged with a first offense, feel like they are in the dark. They do not understand the elements and consequences of OVI, and they do not know what to expect in the court process. They also are uncertain about whether to hire a lawyer and how to find a good defense attorney. I recently published a new book, the Ohio DUI/OVI Guide, which answers most of the questions people ask in this situation. My hope is that those who read the guide will no longer be in the dark.
The reporting of Bruce Springsteen’s DUI arrest shows that, even if a person is presumed innocent in court, they can still be convicted in the press. In addition, Jeep’s publicized decision to pull The Boss’s Super Bowl commercial was an over-reaction. The media coverage and cancel culture are not the only problems. The evidence made public so far brings into question the propriety of Springsteen’s prosecution.
“U Can’t Touch This” – That’s what the trooper believed when he stopped Ryan Turner for touching the ‘fog line’ on Old State Route 74. Based on that belief, the trooper stopped Turner and ultimately charged him with ‘DUI’ (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio). Turner challenged the trooper’s decision, and the case made its way to the Ohio Supreme Court. The Court concluded “you can touch this”, as long as you don’t go over it.
The 2020 holiday season may see a decrease in partying, but there will still be a seasonal increase in enforcement of DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio). The Ohio State Highway Patrol plans an increased presence in December, and the federal government has proclaimed December of 2020 to be ‘National Impaired Driving Prevention Month’. You may be avoiding holiday parties and other large gatherings this season, but if you are on the road at night, officers will be watching closely to see if you should be stopped. There are ways to avoid being stopped, charged with, and convicted of OVI in Ohio.
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).