Most people charged with a first-offense DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) are not aware of the possible consequences. When someone in that situation learns the sentence for a first OVI conviction in Ohio includes a mandatory minimum jail term of three days, it can be frightening. However, judges are authorized to substitute a three-day driver intervention program (DIP) in place of three days in jail. This article provides details about DIPs in OH.
Imagine you are totally sober, but your child’s daycare calls the police and reports you may be intoxicated. Imagine further the police make you perform field sobriety tests while your toddler is running around on the sidewalk. Now imagine you are prosecuted for DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) and Child Endangering and your child is taken away from you for two months, only for a blood test to show no alcohol or drugs, because you were totally sober. Katie Slayton does not have to imagine it: it happened to her. Her experience was the perfect storm of circumstances in a DUI/OVI investigation.
Can you get a DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) on a vehicle which is not motorized? Like many legal questions, the answer is, ‘maybe’. A person involved in a recent ‘pedal pub’ incident found out the hard way the answer is ‘yes’ when operating a mobile bar in Georgia. But what about Ohio?
Utah is apparently leading the way in traffic safety measures. This blog’s last article discussed Utah’s lowering of the ‘legal limit’ for blood alcohol concentration to .05. Now, Utah is working on a law which makes it illegal for an individual to be under the influence when using a vehicle’s driver assistance system. Under the new law, a driver cannot escape criminal liability for DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) by claiming they were not ‘driving’ the vehicle. The same is true in Ohio, without a new law.
We are in favor of government measures to reduce impaired driving. We are not in favor of the government providing misleading reports to the public about those measures. In 2019, Utah introduced a measure to reduce impaired driving: it lowered the ‘legal limit’ for driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) from .08 to .05. A recent press release from NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) reports that traffic deaths in Utah decreased when the state lowered its ‘legal limit’ to .05. The press release is misleading.
When I vacation in other states, people ask me where I’m from. When I say “Columbus”, I usually have to add “Ohio”. I have learned that very few people travel to Ohio for vacation. Some people do travel here for business and personal trips. Whether here for a business trip, a personal trip, or an improbable vacation, if a driver with a license issued by another state gets a DUI/OVI in Ohio, that person faces consequences in Ohio and may face consequences in the state which issued the driver’s license.
Although it is starting to look like it, this is not a blog about NFL players charged with DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio). Recent articles discussed the cases of Henry Ruggs III and Geno Smith because those cases illustrated legal concepts related to DUI/OVI. The last article, about Geno Smith’s arrest, addressed what evidence indicates a driver may be under the influence before a traffic stop. In some DUI/OVI cases, traffic stops are not an issue, such as when the driver is in an accident or found passed-out behind the wheel. The legal concept at issue in those cases is when the driver is ‘seized’ and whether the seizure is legal. The case of Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Nate Hobbs illustrates that concept.
I heard a report that Geno Smith, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, was stopped for speeding and arrested on suspicion of DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio). My first thought was, “speeding doesn’t sound like evidence of DUI”. It turns out Smith was allegedly going 96 mph in a 60 mph zone and driving erratically across several lanes of traffic (according to ESPN). That sounds more like evidence of DUI. Geno Smith’s case prompts the question: “what evidence, before a stop, indicates a driver may be under the influence?”
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.
When a person uses marijuana, the high from the THC last for about two hours, but the THC metabolites are detectable in the person’s urine for up to five weeks. Suppose a person smokes marijuana and a week later is pulled over and investigated for DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio). If that person submits a urine sample and the urine test shows a prohibited level of marijuana metabolite, that person will be prosecuted for OVI because it is ‘per se’ illegal to operate a vehicle with a prohibited concentration of marijuana metabolites, even if the person’s driving is not impaired. Challenges to this ‘per se’ OVI law have been unsuccessful in Ohio courts. A recent case from the Ohio Supreme Court suggests the Court may be inclined to evaluate the constitutionality of the OVI ‘per se’ law for drugs.