I’m traveling to another state for a seminar next week. It just so happens the state is Nevada, and the seminar is in Las Vegas. For me, there is no risk of being convicted of DUI in Nevada because the trip is all about education! Sometimes, however, an Ohio driver comes home with the unwanted souvenir of an out-of-state DUI conviction. When it comes to DUI, what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas: there are consequences in Ohio for a DUI conviction in another state.
I thought they were all drunk: they were driving on the wrong side of the road. But they weren’t drunk, they were just driving in Scotland. And so was I. I drove on the left, sat on the right, and shifted with my left on the endless roundabouts and turns. I navigated all the sheep, stone walls, and cliffs as I drove from the English countryside to the Scottish highlands, so I consider my recent holiday a driving success. The trip prompted me to compare the drunk driving laws of Ohio to the ‘drink driving’ laws of Scotland.
In the last couple weeks, two school bus drivers were suspected of being under the influence while driving a bus full of students. Both drivers were arrested for DUI, and both drivers now face serious consequences. These incidents raise the question of what happens if a school bus driver is convicted of DUI/OVI in Ohio.
It won’t win a Pulitzer Prize, it will not be mentioned with the New York Times best sellers, and it will not be at the top of readers’ ‘wish lists’. In fact, most people may not find it very interesting. If you are charged with a DUI/OVI in Ohio, however, this book suddenly becomes a must-read. I’m talking about the new book: I Was Charged With DUI/OVI, Now What?!
This summer, I had the honor of being shadowed by Japanese criminal defense lawyer Yaeko Hashimoto, who recently completed an LL.M. program at the O.S.U. Moritz College of Law. In our conversations, it became clear there are differences between DUI/OVI laws in Ohio and DUI/OVI laws in Japan. Yaeko agreed to be a guest blogger and prepared the remainder of this article.
What should we do with repeat DUI/OVI offenders? On one hand, we want them to be rehabilitated, and we want them to be employed, which usually requires driving. On the other hand, we want to punish them and protect the public from the risk of harm they create. In Ohio, to protect the public from the danger posed by repeat offenders, we typically require them to have ignition interlock devices installed so they cannot drive after consuming alcohol. In Florida, the state legislature is considering an alternative to ignition interlock: “24/7 Sobriety”. Florida’s consideration of this program raises the question: should Ohio use daily alcohol testing for repeat offenders?
An Ohio DUI / OVI sentence has several parts. There is mandatory jail time (or a driver intervention program for a first offense), a mandatory fine, and a mandatory license suspension. For a first offense, the license suspension is a minimum of six months and a maximum of three years, and the judge has discretion to grant or deny limited driving privileges. There are also optional sanctions for a first offense, and one of those sanctions is the use of an ignition interlock device. Proposed legislation in New Jersey would replace mandatory license suspensions with mandatory use of an ignition interlock. Should Ohio consider this change?
I recently represented a client for a DUI / OVI in a juvenile court near Columbus, Ohio. The case went to trial, and I was sharing my experience with a colleague. The colleague happened to be coordinating a DUI / OVI seminar for the Columbus Bar Association, and he asked me to speak at the seminar on the topic of handling DUI / OVI cases in juvenile court. The topic is a good one because most attorneys do not regularly represent clients for DUI / OVI in juvenile court, and there are some differences between juvenile cases and adult cases.
Race car driver Al Unser, Jr., two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, recently pled guilty to his second DUI, as well as Racing on a Freeway, according to the Albuquerque Journal. The judge in Albuquerque, New Mexico sentenced Unser to 90 days in jail, but one day was credited for time already served, and the remaining 89 days were suspended on the condition that Unser complete one year of probation. He was previously convicted of DUI in 2007. Unser’s plea and sentencing raises some questions: Would his sentence for a second O.V.I. offense in Ohio be harsher? Why was his sentence lenient even by New Mexico standards?
Would Unser’s sentence for a second O.V.I. be harsher in Ohio?
Oh yes. Drunk driving penalties in Ohio are apparently tougher than those in New Mexico. For a second offense in six years, Ohio has a mandatory minimum jail sentence of ten days. That minimum jail sentence is doubled if the breath test/blood test result is at or over .170, or if there was a refusal of the test. In New Mexico, a second offense carries a minimum jail sentence of four days.
In July of 2011, state Representative Jarrod Martin was driving his children in his pickup truck in Jackson County, Ohio. He was pulled over by a state trooper for a marked lanes violation after his truck drifted left of center. The trooper asked Martin to perform field sobriety tests, and Martin declined. Martin also declined a breath test, which resulted in a one-year license suspension. Martin was charged with O.V.I. and Child Endangering in the Jackson County Municipal Court. He hired an attorney and pled Not Guilty. Six months later, the charges of O.V.I. and Child Endangering are being dismissed, and Martin is pleading guilty to the Marked Lanes violation, according to the Dayton Daily News.
In Martin’s case, the trooper added the charge of Child Endangering to the charge of O.V.I., which is common for officers to do when a driver is charged with O.V.I. and has a child in the car. Ohio’s Child Endangering statute specifically prohibits operating a vehicle under the influence (or over the limit) with one or more children in the vehicle. A driver who operates a vehicle under the influence (or over the limit) and has a child in the car necessarily commits the offense of Child Endangering simultaneously with the offense of O.V.I.
Although the two offenses are committed simultaneously, the Ohio Child Endangering statute say a person can be convicted of both O.V.I. and Child Endangering out of the same incident. The sentence for an O.V.I. includes a jail term, a license suspension, a fine, and probation, as well as possible yellow license plates and ignition interlock. For this type of Child Endangering conviction, the sentence includes a possible jail term, license suspension, fine, and probation.