Category: DUI, Drugs & Driving

Ohio Medical Marijuana Timeline

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handcuffsWe finally have a timeline for implementation of the Ohio Medical Marijuana plan.  It was just released and here is what we know so far.

Timeline

  • May 26, 2016
    • House Bill 523 Passage
  • September 6, 2016:
    • Effective Date of Bill
    • Affirmative Defense Begins
  • October 6, 2016
    • Appointment of Advisory Committee
  • November 6, 2016
    • Advisory Committee First Meeting
  • May 4, 2017
    • Dept. of Commerce Establishes Rules and Standards for Cultivation
  • September 6, 2017:
    • Dept. of Commerce Establishes Rules and Standards for Processing and Labs
    • Board of Pharmacy Establishes Rules and Standards for Dispensaries and Registration ID Cards
  • September 6, 2018
    • Ohio Medical Marijuana Program Fully Implemented
Take note of the date that you will be allowed to assert an affirmative defense based on the provisions of the act – September 6, 2016.  Full implementation will not take place until September 6, 2018.  We have yet to hear how local courts will treat people who are found to be driving under the influence of marijuana, but you can expect a crackdown.  Why? Because Ohio law enforcement will pick favorable courts to implement laws restricting the ability to drive after consumption. Currently, Ohio law says that driving with a metabolite of marijuana is driving under the influence of drugs (DUID).  If this does not change, a person could conceivably consume legal marijuana and have possibly illegal metabolite in their body for weeks.  
If you have a question about the marijuana laws or the implementation of the current law, please do not hesitate to contact Charles M. Rowland II, DaytonDUI at (937) 318-1384.

Drugged Driving: What Does The State Have To Prove

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You are getting older. So you are prescribed DrugX by your physician.  You take DrugX responsibly, but a police officer stops you and because you exhibit some evidence of impairments (bloodshot eyes or constricted pupils..). The officer arrests you for OVI and the prosecutor allows the officer to testify as to the effects of DrugX.  With the “expert” testimony of the officer a jury finds you guilty. Is the officer’s opinion enough, or must the State prove that the impaired driving was caused by DrugX?

In State v. Hammond, an officer was using the latest tool given to Ohio law enforcement officers – ARIDE (Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement).  It is being used to augment an officer’s observations in standardized field sobriety tests to prove impairment by a variety of prescription and illicit drugs. Here, “a relatively inexperienced state trooper testified affirmatively to leading questions on redirect examination that Hammond’s consumption of prescription drugs impaired his ability to operate a motor vehicle to a noticeable degree.” A urine test revealed the presence of N-Desmethyldiazepam, Oxazepam, and Temazepam in the 70 year-old defendant. The Defendant’s wife testified he takes medications for blood pressure, cholesterol, sleep and pain. She further testified he had been taking those medications for 15 years, and they did not impair his driving. She explained he suffered two strokes, he has degenerative disc disease, he has an artificial ankle, and he walks with a cane.

A bench trial was held before a judge. Without proving a nexus between the drug and the impairment, all the court heard were the officer’s conclusory and definitive opinion that the old man was impaired.  Amazingly, the judge found the Defendant guilty.  Upon appeal, the court reversed holding that the prosecution must prove a nexus between the drug(s) ingested and the impaired driving ability. The court commented the prosecution could prove that nexus with either expert testimony regarding the potential side effects of the medication or testimony from a non-expert regarding the side effects of that particular medication on that particular defendant.

We conclude the state failed to establish the required nexus between Hammond’s impaired condition and the prescription medications he took. We sustain Hammond’s first assignment of error, reverse the judgment of the trial court, and remand the cause to the trial court to vacate her OMVI conviction and sentence.

The prosecution did not introduce either type of evidence in this case. The officer was not an expert: he was not qualified to testify regarding the side effects of N-Desmethyldiazepam, Oxazepam, and Temazepam. The officer also did not have personal knowledge of how those medications effect Hammond. Without such testimony, the prosecution failed to prove the requisite nexus between the drug(s) ingested and Hammond’s impaired driving ability. Therefore, the evidence was insufficient to prove Hammond’s guilt, so the conviction was overturned.

My takeaway from this case is that ARIDE is faulty and dangerous. If this man can be found guilty based on nothing more than an inexperienced officer’s opinion, none of us are safe from a false conviction. Drugged driving is dangerous, but a better solution must exist than allowing police to target anyone, and anytime for arrest.

 

Drugged Driving Defense Requires Experience

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driving under the influence of drugsDriving under the influence of drugs is the next generation of OVI (operating a vehicle impaired) enforcement in Ohio. It has become a priority of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.  Here are some studies suggesting why they are focusing on this issue.

According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 10.3 million people aged 12 or older (or 3.9 percent of adolescents and adults) reported driving under the influence of drugs during the year prior to being surveyed. This was higher than the rate in 2011 (3.7percent) and lower than the rate in 2002 (4.7 percent). By comparison, in 2012, an estimated 29.1 million persons (11.2 percent) reported driving under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year. (This percentage has dropped since 2002, when it was 14.2 percent.) According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2007 National Roadside Survey, more than 16 percent of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs. More than 11 percent tested positive for illicit drugs.  According to NSDUH data, men are more likely than women to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And young adults aged 18 to 25 are more likely to drive after taking drugs than other age groups.  One NHTSA study found that in 2009, 18 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one illicit, prescription, or over-the-counter drug (an increase from 13 percent in 2005).

Law enforcement from across Ohio has received specialized training via the state’s Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) course. Officers participate in an intensive three-week course. The first two phases of the course are held locally, and the third phase takes place at the Maricopa County Jail in Arizona. This facility processes an average of 900 inmates per day and will provide officers the opportunity to conduct hands-on drug evaluations for all seven drug categories. “I am pleased this training is being offered to our law enforcement partners,” said Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) Executive Director Karhlton Moore. “This will be an invaluable resource in our fight to curb impaired driving, as well as focus on emerging issues such as the prescription drug epidemic currently affecting so many communities across Ohio.”

I have been critical of this approach because it reinforces the mistaken belief by many in the law enforcement community that you can arrest your way out of a drug epidemic.  It funnels resources away from programs designed to help people and into programs to lock people away.  It should be no surprise to anyone that law enforcement likes this new tool.  As the old saying goes, if the only tool you have is a hammer; every problem is a nail. Law enforcement officers will use this tool to do what they are designed to do and that is make arrests.  It is up to us to question whether society is benefited by making more criminals than more recovered addicts.

I have taken courses in the Drug Recognition Expert Protocol and have studied the material relied on by DREs in making arrest decisions.  I am one of the only DUI attorneys in Ohio that has received this training and I am in a great position to help you if you are charged with a drugged driving charge. Call me at (937) 318-1384 or 888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263).

Ohio House Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

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For years, I have dedicated myself to ending the mistaken “War on Drugs” and treating addiction like a medical condition and not a crime. Today was a day I thought I would never see. The Ohio House of Representative passed a medical marijuana bill with support from both parties. This will give Ohio families much needed access to a medicine that has proven effective in other states.

Central Nervous System Depressants

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bail bondsThe category of CNS Depressants includes some of the most commonly abused drugs. Alcohol – the most familiar drug of all – is abused by an estimated 40-50 million Americans.

  • Slightly more than half of Americans age 12 or older reported being current drinkers of alcohol in 2014 (52.7% of the population). This translates to an estimated 139 million people. Source: Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH, September 2015)
  • Depressant drugs consistently rank among the most widely used and abused drugs in the U.S. and Canada. Over the past decade, an estimated 60 million prescriptions were processed for minor tranquilizers in U.S. pharmacies. Source: Downers: A New Look at Depressant DrugsDepressants slow down the operation of the central nervous system (i.e., the brain, brain stem and spinal cord).
    • Cause the user to react more slowly.
    • Cause the user to process information more slowly.
    • Relieve anxiety and tension.
    • Induce sedation, drowsiness and sleep.
    • In high enough doses, CNS Depressants will produce general anesthesia, i.e. depress the brain’s ability to sense pain, and in very high doses, they can induce coma and death.

If you need an OVI attorney, please contact me at (937) 318-1384 or 888-ROWLAND. If you need help after hours, call (937) 776-2671. Email me at CharlesRowland@CharlesRowland.com. Letter? 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324. Smoke signals and airplane messages can be hung anywhere over the Miami Valley and I will get them. If you wish to float a message, the Beaver Creek runs directly behind my office and I can see it from my desk.  “All I do is DUI defense.”