Medical marijuana was effectively legal in Ohio on September 8, 2018 and the first dispensaries opened in early 2019. In the coming months and years, we anticipate Ohio will see more dispensaries and more medical marijuana patients. Despite the legalization, medical marijuana patients and marijuana users have a number of legal pitfalls and restrictions.
In an effort to curb drunk driving and to prevent impaired drivers from ever getting behind the wheel, it's not uncommon to hear the admonition "remember: buzzed driving is drunk driving." While an effective marketing ploy and pithy phrase, does the Ohio Revised Code agree?
Under Ohio law, an OVI charge is ordinarily a misdemeanor and not a felony. Unlike felonies, misdemeanors are not punishable by any prison time and the most serious misdemeanor is punishable by only up to six months of local jail time with a few exceptions. Under certain circumstances, however, operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol can elevate to felony charges.
The Sixth District Court of Appeals in State v. Huffman, 2017 Ohio 7007, recently released a decision clarifying what constitutes a marked lanes violation. This case is valuable for criminal defense attorneys not only because it delineates what constitutes a traffic offense but also because many of our clients charged with OVI are often initially stopped for such a violation. The Court held that a violation of Revised Code § 4511.33, the marked lanes statute, occurs when a driver travels completely across the center line or fog line.
The penalties for people convicted of drunk driving have never been more severe. A conviction for operating a vehicle under the influence in Ohio can land a person in jail, lead to expensive fines, cause the person's license to be suspended and require them to enroll in treatment classes. The penalties can be more severe depending on a number of factors, including prior convictions, higher blood alcohol content levels and more.
Annie's Law will increase mandatory sentences for drunk driving related offenses in Ohio; changes will become effective April 6, 2017.
Last week, in an OVI suppression hearing, a local judge ordered all evidence of our client's alcohol impairment, including her incriminating statements and failed field sobriety tests to be suppressed, effectively protecting her from prosecution as a multiple OVI offender, and 3rd OVI offender in 6 years. Prior to the successful suppression hearing, our client faced a mandatory minimum sixty days in jail and up to one year incarceration. She also faced a mandatory license suspension between two and ten years, forfeiture of her vehicle, and additional sanctions. After the suppression hearing the charges were dismissed.