With the return of winter weather, we have received some questions about what constitutes an emergency and under what authority an emergency can be deemed to exist. We have also counseled clients who wanted to know what law would circumscribe their behavior during a significant weather event. Here is what we learned:
A county sheriff may, pursuant to Ohio Revised Code sections 311.07 and 311.08, declare an emergency and temporarily close the state roads and municipal streets within his/her jurisdiction when such action is reasonably necessary for the preservation of the public peace. Ohio Attorney General’s Opinion 97-015, issued April 1, 1997, concluded that this authority includes state roads, county and township roads and municipal streets.
Ohio law provides for three levels of emergency classifications.
LEVEL 1: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow (the definition may become a matter of dispute if you ever have to challenge this law). Roads may also be icy. Motorists are urged to drive very cautiously.
LEVEL 2: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads may also be very icy. Only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roads. Contact your employer to see if you should report to work. Motorists should use extreme caution.
LEVEL 3: All roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel. No one should be driving during these conditions unless it is absolutely necessary to travel or a personal emergency exists. All employees should contact their employer to see if they should report to work. Those traveling on the roads may subject themselves to arrest.
Ohio Revised Code 2917.13 sets forth the crime of “Misconduct at an Emergency.” Any person who knowingly hampers or fails to obey a lawful order of the sheriff declaring an emergency and temporarily closing highways, roads and/or streets within his/her jurisdiction may be subject to criminal prosecution under Ohio Revised Code Section 2917.13, “Misconduct at an emergency” or other applicable law or ordinance. A violation under that section is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree, punishable by a jail sentence not to exceed 30 days and/or a fine not to exceed $250. If the misconduct creates a risk of physical harm to persons or property, it is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by a jail sentence not to exceed 180 days and/or a fine not to exceed $1,000. Below is the full text of the statute.
ORC 2917.13. Misconduct at emergency.
(A) No person shall knowingly do any of the following:
1. Hamper the lawful operations of any law enforcement officer, firefighter, rescuer, medical person, emergency medical services person, or other authorized person, engaged in the person’s duties at the scene of a fire, accident, disaster, riot or emergency of any kind;
2. Hamper the lawful activities of any emergency facility person who is engaged in the person’s duties in an emergency facility;
3. Fail to obey the lawful order of any law enforcement officer engaged in the law enforcement officer’s duties at the scene of or in connection with a fire, accident, disaster or emergency of any kind.
(B) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit access or deny information to any news media representative in the lawful exercise of the news media representative’s duties.
(C) Whoever violates this section is guilty of misconduct at an emergency. Except as otherwise provided in this division, misconduct at an emergency is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If a violation of this section creates a risk of physical harm to persons or property, misconduct at an emergency is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
(D) As used in this section:
1. “Emergency medical services person” is the singular of “emergency medical services personnel” as defined in section 2133.21 of the Revised Code.
2. “Emergency facility person” is the singular of “emergency facility personnel” as defined in section 2909.04 of the Revised Code.
3. “Emergency facility” has the same meaning as in section 2909.04 of the Revised Code.
Effective Date: 03-22-2004
To view the state’s weather-related road closures and restrictions, visit the Ohio Department of Transportation’s traffic Web site at www.buckeyetraffic.org.
DUI attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in Fairborn, Dayton, Springfield, Kettering, Vandalia, Xenia, Miamisburg, Springboro, Huber Heights, Oakwood, Beavercreek, Centerville and throughout Ohio. He has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself the Miami Valley’s choice for DUI defense. Contact Charles Rowland by phone at 937-318-1DUI (937-318-1384), 937-879-9542, or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263). For after-hours help contact our 24/7 DUI HOTLINE at 937-776-2671. For information about Dayton DUI sent directly to your mobile device, text DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500. Follow DaytonDUI on Twitter @DaytonDUI or Get Twitter updates via SMS by texting DaytonDUI to 40404. DaytonDUI is also available on Facebook and on the DaytonDUI channel on YouTube. You can also email Charles Rowland at: CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.com or write to us at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324. “All I do is DUI (and clean up snow)”
Thank you to all of you who trust us to represent you through the tough times in your life. We are thankful for the trust you place in us and for the opportunity to represent you. We will use this season as a rededication to you, our clients.
We are thankful for the notes of thanks we receive from past clients and we are thankful for all of you who tell a trusted friend that we can help them. We are thankful for the kind words when we are frustrated and the shared laughs when the absurdity of the world overwhelms us. We are thankful for your twitter follows, Facebook likes and google pluses. We are thankful for you calls, your expectations and your confidence in us. So today, we raise a toast to you… our clients. Happy Thanksgiving!
This article is about the Constitution. It is a departure from my norm (a rant really!).
“The ability to learn from others is central to the evolution and persistence of culture, and it is viewed as part of the reason humans have come to dominate the planet. Sometimes individuals copy the behaviors of others seemingly at random; other times they appear to decide who to copy based on the level of prestige of the individual” [Source]. An example is a person who learns to affix a sharpened rock to the end of a stick. We do the same so as to successfully take down a wooly mammoth and survive. Famed sociologist Max Weber writes about this evolutionary adaptation in his leadership theory, wherein he says that we have a need to place “charismatic leaders” in a position so that we may emulate their success. Weber defines charismatic leadership as “resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him” [Source]. Who are our cultural leaders today?
With the advent of television and our celebrity culture we see the destructive nature of this evolutionary drive. In America, we have eschewed the valuable thinkers in government, philosophy, science and the arts in favor of celebrity. Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton (among others) are emulated and their desires and actions implicitly placed as examples for society to follow. What we know of evolution dictates that a significant portion of people will follow them as an example worthy of emulation. We acquiesce without conscious thought based on the unseen drive to copy the behavior of the successfully adapted. It is yet to be seen if we can survive and adapt as a society if we follow the leadership and example of people who have no discernible talent (except that of maintaining attention and fame).
The point of this post is to have us examine what we place in front of police officers as charismatic leadership behavior. Recall the early days of cinema where law enforcement was seen as upholding the law; so much so, that they would defend the prisoner against the mob at the risk of their own lives. The rule of law was important and we were only safe if we submitted ourselves to it. Lawlessness and chaos were kept at bay by the brave men (usually only men back then) that understood the rule of law was sacrosanct. Early television shows like Gunsmoke, 1-ADAM-12 and Dragnet followed this philosophy. The characters found their nobility in upholding and trusting the system. The police, sheriff, marshall, FBI agent, were all US. They valued “us” because we shared with them a value system rooted in our mutual respect for the law and each other.
Somewhere in the 1960’s we lost faith in each other. Depictions of law enforcement behavior changed accordingly. Now, the system was the enemy. Instead of a shared value system worthy of respect; Dirty Harry taught us that it was not to be trusted. Only the law enforcement officer could reliably inflict punishment and justice. He was a lone force for good. Detective Sipowicz on NYPD Blue was lauded for his ability to “work around” the rules and intimidate criminals into confessions. “Colors” is a film about a 19 year veteran (Robert Duvall) who is teamed with a rookie (Sean Penn). They debate (via their attitudes and actions) which approach to policing is best in our modern society. Not surprisingly, the values of rapport and diplomacy are symbolically killed with the death of the Duvall character. The charismatic leadership takeaway for aspiring officers: we are not in this together; the citizen is the enemy; don’t trust the Constitution because it does not work. This had a cultural impact. [language warning for clip].
Beginning in the 1980’s we see the courts begin to adopt the same philosophy toward the Constitution as that depicted in the culture. We began to see our cherished Constitutional American values shown as technicalities that protected criminals. Is it any surprise that we see an erosion of the 4th Amendment, 5th Amendment and other Constitutional protections? Should we expect anything less than the police seeking military grade weapons to protect itself against us? Since the criminals are “the other” why not just lock up and store as many people in prisons as we can? Why should we not adopt any tactic, no matter how unscrupulous to attack people who use drugs — they are the enemy! Red-light cameras, civil asset forfeiture, mass incarceration, the drug war, and ultimately the sanctioning of torture by our government can be traced back to this cultural adaptation. Some more evidence -Almost 60% of teens think torture is ok! According to a Red Cross poll looking at attitudes US citizens have about the use of torture on enemy combatants. So is it a stretch to think that teens, who grew up in the last decade now think torture is an acceptable form of punishment? In my particular practice (DUI defense) we see no shortage of advocacy groups who seek to remove that pesky Constitution from their goal of punishing the “other” the drunk driver — the enemy!
Let’s change this! Support the Constitution. Let’s be American again! It begins by believing in the system and believing in each other. Police officers are not our enemy and we are not theirs.