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Driving Drugged

Your friendly Youngstown OVI lawyer will assure you that it’s illegal in Ohio to drive when you’re high, otherwise known as “under the influence of a controlled substance.” The Ohio Revised Code addressed this in Section 4511.19(A)(1)(j). The law includes things like marijuana, street drugs such as heroin and cocaine, and prescription drugs. Most often, the drugs involved in OVI cases are prescription drugs.

There are also “per se” offenses of different types for driving while under the influence of drugs. The law lists specific drug concentration percentages that are illegal to have in the blood, regardless of how much or how little the driver is impaired by them. The list of drugs included in the law is below.

  • Methamphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Cocaine metabolite
  • LSD
  • Amphetamine
  • Salvinorin A
  • Salvia divinorum
  • Heroine
  • Heroine metabolite
  • Phencyclidine
  • Marihuana (cannabis/marijuana)
  • Marihuana metabolite

As long as a driver agrees to take a blood or urine test within three hours of the time he was stopped by the police, and as long as the test was given in a manner consistent with the law laid out in the Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.19, the results will usually be admissible in court.

OVI Prescription Drug Defenses

Ohio law has set the requirements for defending those using the defense of prescription drugs when they’ve been charged with drugged driving. The Revised Code Section 4511.19(K)(1)-(2) gives two things that must be true to use this defense.

  • The accused got the prescription drug via a prescription given to him by a licensed health professional who is allowed to prescribe drugs, and
  • The person followed the health professional’s directions for using the drug, whether it was ingested, inhaled, or injected.

Since a prescription is necessary for this defense, people whose doctors have recommended they use marijuana can’t invoke it, because a doctor’s recommendation is not the same as a prescription and is not considered to be a valid one.

Implied Consent and Drugged Driving

As with alcohol use, if you have a driver’s license, you gave consent to be tested for drugs in your system when you signed to accept your driver’s license. In Ohio law, this is termed “implied consent.” Chemical tests include tests of your breath, blood, and/or urine. This is covered in the Revised Code, Section 4511.191(A)(2).

Sometimes, people forget this part of the law and refuse to allow their breath, blood, or urine to be tested. The arresting officer must read you the implied consent warning that’s in the law before it can count as a refusal, but once he’s read it and you have refused, your driver’s license will immediately be suspended by the BMV in what’s called an Administrative License Suspension, or ALS.

The law says the first time you refuse to submit to a chemical test, your ALS will be one year in length. The second time, it will be two years. The third time will result in a three-year suspension.

Generally, the test you are given will depend upon the law enforcement agency whose officer arrested you. This is in accordance with section 4511.191(A)(3) of the Revised Code. The large majority of the time, you’re not allowed to call your attorney before you make your choice.

Drugged Driving Penalties

The penalties are the same, whether you are arrested for driving with alcohol in your system, with drugs in your system, or with some combination of the two.

Your first OVI is a 1st-degree misdemeanor. The following are the penalties you will face:

  • Driver’s license suspension (separate from the ALS) of 6 months to 3 years
  • No more than 6 months in jail. This can be replaced with a three-day driver intervention program requirement.
  • Mandatory minimum jail sentence of three days.
  • A fine between $375 and $1,075.

Your second OVI within a 6-year period is still a 1st-degree misdemeanor. Your penalties will include:

  • A 1 to 5 year class 4 license suspension (additional to ALS)
  • Mandatory minimum 10 days in jail, served consecutively.
  • Maximum of 6 months in jail.
  • Impounding of your license plates and vehicle for 90 days.
  • Required drug and alcohol assessment and treatment program.
  • Fine of $525 to $1,625.

The third time you are convicted of OVI within 6 years is a 1st-degree misdemeanor with increased penalties, as follows:

  • Mandatory minimum 30 consecutive days in jail (maximum 1 year)
  • Your vehicle criminally forfeited.
  • A 2 to 10 year class 3 license suspension (in addition to the ALS suspension).
  • Fine of $850 to $2,750.
  • Participation in a drug and alcohol addiction program – required.

The fourth and fifth time you are convicted of OVI, the charge becomes a 4th degree felony. The penalties are:

  • Prison sentence of 60 consecutive days (mandatory minimum), up to 1 to 5 years maximum.
  • Your vehicle could be criminally forfeited.
  • A driver’s license suspension of 3 years to life.
  • Fine of $1,350 to $10,500.
  • Being required to participate in a drug and alcohol addiction program.

The sixth, seventh, and so on conviction is a 3rd-degree felony. The very harsh penalties are:

  • Prison for a mandatory minimum 120 days, to be served consecutively, or up to 1 to 5 years.
  • Driver’s license suspended.
  • You could lose your vehicle to a criminal forfeiture.
  • Fine from $1,350 to $10,500.
  • Participation in a drug and alcohol addiction program is mandatory.

Drugged driving is a serious charge that needs a serious defense. Call Sean Logue today. 1-844-PITT-OVI

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