Over the past couple of years, this blog has followed and discussed the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Mitchell v. Wisconsion. While Supreme Court decisions can seem like seismic shifts in the law when they are issued, the reality is it often takes time for their effects to be felt on a practical level. Such is the case with Mitchell. While it was decided over a year-and-a-half ago, it is just now being discussed by Ohio Appellate Courts.
DUI cases (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) are some of the most complicated cases filed in Ohio courts. From field sobriety tests to breath/blood/urine tests, there are many minute and highly technical details that can make or break an OVI defense in court. Often, a seemingly simple but no less important detail can get lost under the mountain of specialized evidence in OVI cases: why did the person get pulled over in the first place? And, more importantly for OVI defense: what degree of evidence does the prosecution need to present to justify that traffic stop?
The Michigan legislature recently passed a bill which would permit first-time DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) offenders to have their records sealed (expunged). Michigan, like Ohio, currently permits record sealing for many criminal offenses but prohibits record sealing for DUI convictions. The Michigan bill passed with an overwhelming majority and is now waiting for the governor’s approval. The potential change in Michigan’s expungement law raises the question of whether first-offense OVI convictions in Ohio should be eligible for record sealing.
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.
Now that I can buy three takeout margaritas with my enchiladas to-go, can I sip one on the way home? If not, can my passenger drink it? And if that’s not allowed, where am I supposed to put the drinks while I drive? I don’t want to get charged with ‘Open Container’, or any other Ohio alcohol-related offenses for that matter.
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?
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.
Almost everyone will be involved in a car accident at some point in their lives. When a collision occurs, your first concern is probably safety. The last thing going through your mind is what exactly the law requires you to do after the accident. Failing to take the many steps required by Ohio law can result in a charge of leaving the scene of an accident, more commonly referred to as hit-skip. These charges can result in a license suspension, a jail term, driver license points, and a hefty fine. The penalties are so harsh partly because prosecutors and judges assume a hit-skip driver was probably guilty of drunk driving (called OVI in Ohio). So how strictly must the law be followed? The Ohio Supreme Court recently issued a decision which addresses this question.
If another driver becomes angry with you, that driver can easily call the police and report you as a drunk driver. The driver doesn’t have to give a statement to the police. In fact, the allegation can be completely anonymous.
Should police officers be permitted to stop you based only on another person’s anonymous tip? That question will be answered by the Ohio Supreme Court, as it recently agreed to hear the case of State v. Tidwell. The case could have broad implications, not for not just OVI cases, but for individuals’ Fourth Amendment protections in general.