Marijuana DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) is increasingly prevalent. Historically, DUI/OVI was thought of as ‘drunk driving’. Currently, Ohio law prohibits operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The law also prohibits operating a vehicle with a prohibited concentration of drugs in one’s system. Drugs, in this context, includes marijuana. In fact, as Ohio OVI / DUI lawyers, we can confirm the number of alcohol-related OVI charges is decreasing, but the number of marijuana-related OVI charges is increasing.
Investigations For Marijuana DUI / OVI In Ohio
An investigation for DUI / OVI typically begins when a law enforcement officer makes a traffic stop but may also begin when there is an auto accident or when an officer comes into contact with a driver for some other reason. Often, the officer notices the odor of marijuana or observes signs the driver is under the influence of drugs. If that happens, the officer will likely administer field sobriety tests. Based on the totality of the officer’s observations, if the officer has probable cause to believe the driver is under the influence of marijuana (or another drug), the officer arrests the driver and charges the driver with the offense of OVI (called OVI ‘impaired’).
Following the arrest, the officer typically transports the driver to a police station or jail. There, the arresting officer or another officer (a Drug Recognition Evaluator) may administer a series of tests called a Drug Recognition Evaluation. The officer(s) then ask the driver to submit a sample of blood or urine for testing. If the result of the blood or urine test is at or over the prohibited level, the officer charges the driver with a second OVI charge (called OVI ‘per se’).
Consequences For OVI / DUI Marijuana In Ohio
The potential sentence for marijuana OVI is the same as the potential sentence for alcohol OVI. For a first offense within ten years, the potential sentence includes a mandatory driver license suspension of one year to three years, a mandatory jail term of three days to 180 days, and a mandatory fine of $375 to $1,075. Also, the judge imposing the sentence may order restricted (yellow) license plates, require the use of an ignition interlock device, and place the driver on probation (also called ‘community control’) for up to five years with the requirement of substance abuse counseling and other conditions. For additional offenses within ten years, the mandatory penalties increase. In addition to the sentence imposed by the court, there are also secondary consequences, including a permanent public record for the conviction which cannot be sealed/expunged.
Defenses To Charges Of Marijuana DUI / OVI
A driver does not need to simply accept the conviction and the consequences which flow from it. There are effective defenses to marijuana DUI / OVI. First, there are defenses related to the right to be free from illegal seizures: the stop, the continued detention for investigation, and the arrest must all be legally justified. Second, there are defenses related to testing: field sobriety tests, Drug Recognition Evaluations, and chemical tests of the blood and/or urine. Third, there is the requirement that the prosecution prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. These are just a few categories of the many defenses available in this type of case.
Deciding How To Handle A Marijuana DUI/OVI Case
If you are accused of OVI, you should decide, before you go to court, how you intend to address the case. At your first court appearance, you will be asked to plead Guilty/No Contest or Not Guilty. If you are prepared to accept the OVI conviction and the consequences, your plea would be Guilty or No Contest. If you prefer to contest the case and try to improve the outcome, your plea would be Not Guilty. This is an important decision with life-long ramifications, so you may want to consult a lawyer before making the decision. There are many lawyers who represent clients for OVI charges, and you will want to consult a lawyer with expertise in marijuana OVI cases.
Law Firm With Expertise In Marijuana OVI / DUI Cases
The Dominy Law firm has expertise in this area. Our practice is limited to criminal defense, with a focus on OVI defense. Our lawyers have completed specialized education relevant to marijuana OVI, including classes on field sobriety testing and chemical testing of blood and urine. You can learn more about the attorneys on their profile pages, and you can learn more about our firm on the ‘About Us’ page. If your marijuana OVI/DUI case is in central Ohio and you would like to discuss possible representation, you can schedule a free phone consultation by calling 614-717-1177 or by submitting a CONTACT FORM .