Ohio DUI law R.C. 4511.19(A)(2) enhances the penalty for a motorist who, having been convicted once in the last six (6) years, after having been arrested, refuses to take a blood, breath or urine test. In State v. Hoover,173 Ohio App.3d 487, 2007-Ohio-5773, the issue of whether or not a person can have a DUI sentence enhanced pursuant to R.C. 4511.19(A)(2) for refusing to take a chemical test was before the Ohio Supreme Court. The government sought to have the sentence of Corey Hoover enhanced from the ten (10) day mandatory penalty for a second time DUI offender in Ohio to twenty (20) days because he refused to take a breath test. “The issue here is whether the state can criminalize a person’s failure to consent to a warrantless search, or in other words, to force a consent to search through the coercive power of threatened jail time. Although consent is implied by R.C. 4511.191, consent can be withdrawn. … Imposing criminal sanctions for failure to consent goes far beyond the state’s power … to regulate the licensure of drivers. Id.
The defendant argued that “ he has a constitutional right to revoke his implied consent and that being forced by threat of punishment to submit to a chemical test violates his rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 14 of the Ohio Constitution, which provide that persons, houses, and effects are protected against unreasonable search and seizure.” Justice Lanzinger emphasized that R.C. 4511.19(A)(2) does not make refusal to take a chemical test a criminal offense. “The activity prohibited under R.C. 4511.19(A)(2) is operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A person’s refusal to take a chemical test is simply an additional element that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt along with the person’s previous DUI conviction to distinguish the offense from a violation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a). Id. The majority opinion was joined by Justices Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Maureen O’Connor and Robert R. Cupp.
Justice Paul E. Pfeifer entered a dissenting opinion that was joined by Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer and Justice Terrence O’Donnell. Justice Pfeifer wrote that today’s majority holding diverges from previous court decisions which have upheld only the imposition of administrative penalties against DUI defendants for refusing to submit to chemical testing.
“R.C. 4511.19(A)(2) veers from the traditional administrative punishment for refusal to consent to a chemical test upon an arrest for DUI and goes down a separate path, beyond the regulation of licensing; for certain DUI arrestees, R.C. 4511.19(A)(2) criminalizes the refusal to take a chemical test. This court’s previous jurisprudence regarding sanctions for a DUI defendant’s failure to consent to chemical tests have all involved license suspensions. … This court has previously answered the question whether a person can face criminal sanctions for failure to consent to a search. In Wilson v. Cincinnati (1976) … this court held that that the Fourth Amendment prohibits the imposition of criminal penalties upon a person who refuses to submit to a warrantless search.”
“The issue here is whether the state can criminalize a person’s failure to consent to a warrantless search, or in other words, to force a consent to search through the coercive power of threatened jail time. Although consent is implied by R.C. 4511.191, consent can be withdrawn. … Imposing criminal sanctions for failure to consent goes far beyond the state’s power … to regulate the licensure of drivers. As in Wilson, the statute at issue herein imposes a codified dilemma – consent to a warrantless search or face the possibility of a criminal penalty – and thus amounts to coercion. R.C. 4511.19(A)(2) therefore violates defendants’ rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 14, Article I of the Ohio Constitution.”
This important DUI decision has withstood challenge, so far. This author posits what impact the recent United States Supreme Court decision in Missouri v. McNeely, 133 S.Ct. 1552 (2013) regarding the State to obtain a warrant prior to a forced blood draw will have on this decision and other Ohio DUI law issues. The “codified dilema” as Justice Pfeifer called this matter will have to be relitigated in cases where the State decides not to seek a warrant and also attempts to “enhance” the sentence.
Attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in the Miami Valley and throughout Ohio. He knows Ohio DUI law and has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself Dayton’s choice for drunk driving defense. Contact Charles Rowland by phone at (937) 318-1384 or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263). If you need assistance after hours, call the 24/7 DUI Hotline at (937) 776-2671. You can have DaytonDUI at your fingertips by downloading the DaytonDUI Android App or have DaytonDUI sent directly to your mobile device by texting DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500. Follow DaytonDUI on Facebook, @DaytonDUI on Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Pheed and Pintrest or get RSS of the Ohio DUI blog. Email CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.com or visit his office at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324. “All I do is DUI defense.”
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