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.
The Dominy Law Firm was recently listed as a “Best Law Firm” by U.S. News & World Report. The publication’s rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, as well as peer review from leading attorneys. The Dominy Law Firm is one of only four law firms in Ohio named as a “Tier 1 Best Law Firm” for DUI/OVI Defense and also named as a “Best Law Firm” for General Criminal Defense.
After being canceled in 2020 due to some global pandemic, the annual DUI seminar in Las Vegas resumed in October of 2021. This year’s theme was ‘Top Shelf DUI Defenses’. The National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) assembled a marvelous menu of superb speakers. The seminar really was top shelf.
In a DUI case (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio), what happens when evidence is destroyed because a prosecutor does not timely respond to a specific request for that evidence? It depends on the jurisdiction. In ten of Ohio’s 12 appellate districts, the case would likely be dismissed. In the other two Ohio appellate districts, there would likely be no sanction. Two appellate cases from two Ohio cities illustrate the outcome depends, in large part, on where the case is heard.
Police officers in Georgia are being trained to draw blood from drivers suspected of DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio). Typically, a person arrested for OVI in Ohio is taken to a police station for a breath test or urine test. Occasionally, an OVI suspect is taken to a hospital for a blood test. In Georgia, DUI suspects will now have their blood drawn by police officers. Could we soon have police officers drawing blood from OVI suspects in Ohio?
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.
Cases of Vehicular Homicide and Vehicular Assault often involve testimony regarding accident investigation and accident reconstruction. Accident investigation is the collection of evidence at the crash site, and this activity is typically not considered the domain of expert testimony. Accident reconstruction is the use of scientific methods to determine the cause of the accident, so testimony on this subject is ordinarily considered expert testimony. A recent Ohio case illustrates the expert nature of accident reconstruction testimony.
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.