Ohio Takes Drugged Driving Very Seriously

Drugged driving is as dangerous as drunk driving, in that the effect of a drug on a driver’s brain may impair him or her at a level that makes driving risky and even potentially lethal for him or herself, passengers, those in other vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

A Recent Example

In December, 2012, a Cortland, Ohio, man got five years in prison for his ninth felony conviction for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, known as an OVI conviction. According to The Vindicator, he also pleaded guilty to the related misdemeanor of child endangerment for having a minor in his motor vehicle at the time of the OVI offense.

The conviction under Ohio drugged driving law was for a September mishap in which he crashed his car while driving with a suspended license. As part of his sentence, he agreed to have his drivers’ license suspended permanently, having already had 13 past suspensions.

Ohio OVI

A driver can be convicted of an Ohio OVI for driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs alone, or in combination. In the Cortland case, the defendant had both an illegal blood alcohol level of almost 0.1 and a level of marijuana in his body that was almost four times greater than that which Ohio law recognizes as illegal for driving.

Marijuana is the most common illicit drug that drivers test for, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Zero tolerance

Ohio has enacted a variation of a so-called “zero-tolerance law” that applies to drug-influenced driving. A pure zero-tolerance law would automatically find criminal behavior if a driver got behind the wheel with even a trace of an illegal substance in his or her system. Similarly, Ohio’s version says that if a driver tests for any of a number of listed drugs at a certain concentration level, he or she is presumed to be criminally under the influence of that drug for purposes of driving.

Drugs covered by the Ohio zero-tolerance OVI law include amphetamine, cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, methamphetamine and phencyclidine.

Implied consent

Like other states, Ohio has an “implied consent” law providing that a condition of driving in the state is that a driver will allow chemical testing to determine whether he or she is under the influence of alcohol. This legal presumption also applies to drivers suspected of drugged driving and assumes they will consent to chemical testing for the presence of drugs in their bodies.

If a person refuses a chemical test of his or her bodily fluids, the officer may use “reasonable” means to “ensure” a blood test is done. Refusal of testing will cause license suspension and a reinstatement fee.

If you are arrested in Ohio for driving under the influence of a drug, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney who has handled such cases. He or she can advise you of your rights, conduct an investigation to gather evidence and start to build a defense for you.