Tag: Law

Police Do Not Need To Know Law To Enforce It – Heien v. North Carolina

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Heien v. North CarolinaNo. 13–604. Argued October 6, 2014—Decided December 15, 2014 ; another case giving police more power to stop and arrest and another body blow to the Fourth Amendment.

Heien v. North Carolina

In 2009, Nicholas Heien and a friend were traveling on a highway in North Carolina when they were stopped for having a broken tail light. Subsequently, a search of the car found a plastic bag containing cocaine. Where this case takes a turn is when we learn that the police had no legal right to stop the car because, under North Carolina law, having a single broken tail light is not an offense.  The police officer was ignorant of the law.

The defense argued that just as ordinary citizens cannot claim ignorance of the law as a defense, police can’t either, and because the traffic stop was illegal, the evidence from the search that followed should not have been permitted in evidence against him.

The United States Supreme Court disagreed. By an 8-1 vote, ruled that since the officer’s mistake was reasonable, it did not violate the constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. The maxim “ignorance of the law is no excuse,” does not apply here, Chief Justice Roberts maintained, because Heien “is not appealing a brake light ticket; he is appealing a cocaine-trafficking conviction as to which there is no asserted mistake of fact or law.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the lone dissenter.  She focused her concern on giving police a further ability to abuse their power. Traffic stops can be “annoying, frightening, and perhaps humiliating,” she observed. And permitting stops based on a mistaken reading of the law has “human consequences for communities and their relationships with the police.” The perverse effect of permitting police to go ahead with a mistaken reading of the law, she wrote, is to prevent or delay clarification of the law so that doubt continues to exist in the minds of the public or police about what is and is not legal.

Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in the Miami Valley and throughout Ohio. He 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. You can email CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.com or visit his office at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324.

“All I do is DUI defense.”

For more info case law like Heien v. North Carolina, check these city-specific sites at the following links:

Fairborn, Dayton, Springfield, Kettering,Vandalia,Xenia,Miamisburg, Huber Heights,Springboro,Oakwood,Beavercreek, Centerville




Judges Express Concerns Over Ignition Interlock Implementation

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2004 model of an ignition-interlock breath ana...

As Ohio is contemplating “Annie’s Law” which would require Ignition Interlock Devices for every first-time OVI offender, it is important to look at how implementation went in other states.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released a report on Arizona’s adoption of the law. DOT HS 812 025, Ignition Interlock: An Investigation into Rural Arizona Judges’ Perceptions, Fred Cheesman, Matthew Kleiman, Cynthia G. Lee, and Kathryn Holt (May, 2014).   In 2007, Arizona became the second state in the nation to require all first-time drunk driving offenders to equip their vehicles with ignition interlock devices. The first was Arizona’s neighbor New Mexico, which implemented a one-year interlock requirement for first-time offenders in 2005.

First some context on the timing of the Arizona law.  What we find in this report is that the ignition interlock implementation was started in the middle of a downward trend.  “There is also a decreasing trend in the percent of these fatalities that were alcohol-related (BAC of .01 and higher). The trend is obvious from the first data point in 1982 to the last in 2010, when the percentage dropped from 58% to 42% respectively. The trend began well before the legislation was implemented in 2007.” Id. at 4-5.   A similar trend can also be noted for alcohol-impaired driving fatalities (i.e., fatalities wherein the driver had a BAC of .08 or higher), for which the percentage dropped from 52% in 1982 to 36% in 2010.  This provides a context for the claims of the interlock proponents who use these statistics in a deceptive way to show a causal relationship between implementation of the interlock law and the drop in fatalities. Id. at 4-5.

The report details how rural Arizona judges were given a lengthy “education” session about the law by interlock proponents prior to being asked their opinion of the law.  Despite intense indoctrination, some judges still had concerns.

“Many of the judges indicated that it is difficult for DUI offenders to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles. Most of the rural jurisdictions do not have a vendor that services their locality. Instead, offenders are forced to drive 50 to 150 miles, each way, to providers who are in the nearest ‘large’ town or city. The judges pointed out that this is a challenge for many rural defendants who may have cars that are operationally unreliable. The end result is that some defendants are not obtaining the interlock device and are being arrested for driving with a suspended license.” Id. at 19-20.

Other judges expressed concern about the costs associated with a first offense.

Several judges expressed their concern that the monetary expense of the sanctions make it difficult for rural defendants to comply. “We are a very poor rural county and I think the requirement is good, but there are definitely financial and logistical barriers.” Id. at 21.

The judges even found a way to voice concerns over the requirement of treatment for rural and poor defendants.

Additionally, a few of the judges pointed out that rural communities do not have sufficient DUI counseling centers or programs. This makes it very difficult for DUI offenders to comply with their treatment requirements. The end result is that warrants can be issued for those who do not attend their review hearings (where an offender is required to provide proof of counseling) and additional, costly jail time may be imposed. Id. at 21.

It seems that many of the judges were skeptical of the efficacy of the law and its implementation even after they have been required to use “blow to go” devices for over  seven years.

Despite the availability of information and extant training opportunities, several of the judges pointed to information gaps where they would like additional information about ignition interlock programs. Specifically, judges were interested in knowing more about:

  • What are the costs involved for installation and the monthly rates?
  • How do the ignition interlock devices work and function in practice?
  • What is the efficacy of the device? How easy or hard is it to tamper with the device?
  • What is the availability of local providers and how challenging is it for defendants to obtain the ignition interlock device in their jurisdiction?
  • Are ignition interlock devices effective as a deterrent? What studies are available that documents the effectiveness in reducing recidivism?
  • What are the rates of compliance? (Since the sanction is an administrative matter of the Motor Vehicle Department, judges would like to know how the ignition interlock requirements are being monitored and enforced).
  • Are there other areas where the technology could be used (e.g., underage drinking)?

The authors also did an interesting look into whether or not the law is resulting in more drunk driving cases being reduced.  Not surprisingly, “[t]here is clearly a general trend of increasing charge reductions in most counties, including rural counties.” Id. at 24-25.  Although they offer this caveat: “[t]his trend began well before the implementation of the 2007 legislation and does not appear to be related to it.”  Which raises the question is the harshness of the law causing prosecutors and judges to realize the crushing burdens placed on first time offenders.  In the conclusion section of the report the authors note: “Our analyses revealed that there has been a general and longstanding trend of increasing rates of charge reductions for convicted DUI offenders that began well before implementation of the 2007 legislation.” Id. at 28.

The authors, recognizing the trend toward reducing drunk driving charges, make the following recommendation. “Recommendation: Any state implementing legislation that changes penalties for DUI should investigate whether sentencing behavior (particularly charge reductions) changes in response to the legislation, to ensure fidelity of implementation.” Id. at 29. With regard to the implementation issues they make the following recommendation. “Recommendation: Any state considering requiring ignition interlock for all convicted DUI offenders should develop plans and contingencies well in advance of implementation of such a policy to ensure that citizens from rural jurisdictions, as well as from urban jurisdictions, have ready access to ignition interlock services.”

It is my hope that our legislators are looking at the costs of implementing and monitoring the law.  I hope that they take a step back and review how amazingly harsh the penalties are for first-time offenders and how many poor people are disproportionally impacted by these laws.  The vast majority of individuals charged with a first OVI do not come back into the system – this is good.  So why pass laws that will create more crime and not make the streets any safer?  I am holding out hope that Ohio will have men and women who will take the hard stance against MADD’s agenda.

Attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in the Miami Valley and throughout Ohio.  He 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.  You can email CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.com or visit his office at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324.  “All I do is DUI defense.”

For more information on ignition interlock devices check these city-specific sites at the following links:
FairbornDaytonSpringfieldKetteringVandaliaXeniaMiamisburg, Huber HeightsOakwoodBeavercreekCenterville

Top Ten Rules for Partying in Ohio

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In light of the arrest made following the University of Dayton’s victory, we offer college students these rules for partying (legally) in Ohio.

Rule #1: Don’t Drink and Drive

Ohio has some of the most stringent drunk driving laws in the county.  A first-time offender faces 180 days in jail and a one thousand seventy-five dollar fine, loss of their driver’s license for up to three years and enhanced penalties upon subsequent convictions.  A DUI (called an OVI in Ohio) is not subject to expungement, meaning it will be on your record forever, and subjects an offender to a six (6) year look-back period for enhancements and up to twenty (20) years for enhanced punishments for refusing an officer’s request to provide a breath, blood or urine sample.  In addition to the penalties you will face in court, you may face suspension from your school or other discipline. (Ohio Revised Code 4511.19)

Rule #2: Don’t Drink If You Are Under 21

It is illegal in Ohio for anyone under 21 to purchase, possess or consume an alcoholic beverage.  A conviction of Underage Consumption is a first degree misdemeanor and carries a maximum fine of $1,000.00 and/or up to six months in jail.  Despite efforts to lower the drinking age, the law remains rigidly enforced.  Athletes, students on scholarship and students who live in on-campus housing may face additional harsh penalties for underage drinking and be particularly vulnerable to the penalties that are sure to follow an arrest.  Ohio Revised Code Section 4301.69 contains most of the information concerning underage alcohol possession and use. Penalties are in Ohio Revised Code Section 4301.99.

Rule #3: Don’t Furnish Alcohol to Minors

Furnishing someone under 21 with alcohol is a first degree misdemeanor.  If you are providing the alcohol, make sure you know where it is going.  You may be responsible if an underage person consumes the alcohol and face harsh punishments.  Ohio regularly receives funding for programs aimed at curbing underage drinking and uses these funds to go after people providing the booze.  The bigger your party the more likely it is to draw attention from law enforcement.

Rule #4: Don’t Use a Fake ID

Just possessing  a fake ID is illegal in Ohio and is classified as a first degree misdemeanor.  Using the fake ID to purchase alcohol is punished by a mandatory $250.00 fine and may result in a 3 year driver’s license suspension.  A popular enforcement method is for police officers to serve as vendors in drive-through establishments:  “COPS IN SHOPS”

Rule #5: Don’t Drink Where You Shouldn’t

Ohio has an open container law.  It is a minor misdemeanor to possess in public an open container of an alcoholic beverage.  You are subject to a fine of up to $150.00 (a minor misdemeanor).  Possession of alcohol while in a car bumps the charge up to a fourth degree misdemeanor and subjects the offender to 30 days in jail. 4301.62 Opened container of beer or intoxicating liquor prohibited at certain premises.

Rule #6: Don’t Be Drunk In or Near a Car

Pursuant to Ohio Revised Code 4511.194 (effective Jan. 1, 2005), it is illegal to be in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence. “Physical Control” is defined as being in the driver’s seat of a car and having possession of the vehicle’s keys.  Physical Control does not require that the vehicle have ever been driven or even started.  Under the statute, having the keys within reach will satisfy the definition of having “physical control.”   The crime is one of potentiality, (i.e. you are so close to driving that we will punish you) and speaks to the growing neo-prohibitionist tendencies in Ohio law.

Rule #7:  Don’t Be Disorderly

Disorderly conduct can occur from simply being intoxicated in public.  Officers are given a great deal of discretion in determining what constitutes disorderly behavior.  Disorderly conduct occurs when one recklessly causes inconvenience, annoyance or alarm to another due to offensive conduct. Disorderly conduct also occurs when one makes unreasonable noise in such a manner as to violate the peace and quiet of the neighborhood or to be detrimental to the life and health of any individual.  While normally a minor misdemeanor ($150.00 fine) a disorderly conduct can be enhanced to a fourth degree misdemeanor (30 days jail/$250 fine) if an officer tells you to stop the behavior and you persist. See O.R.C. 2917.11 Disorderly Conduct.

Rule #8: Don’t burn stuff

Intentionally setting fire to property that might endanger other or their property, in fact damages the property of another and/or preventing police, fire or EMS personnel from doing their job is a violation of O.R.C. 2909.01 to 2909.0.  Students at public universities in Ohio who are found guilty of these crimes will lose all state-funded financial aid for two years.

Rule #9: Disperse When Instructed

Failure to disperse is also a crime in Ohio.  You should begin walking away and/or go indoors upon such an order. You must obey all lawful orders given by such persons at an emergency site.  A recent revision in the law makes a failure to disperse in situations such as campus area riots an offense for which you can be arrested and jailed. If you actively hamper police officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and other public officials while they are doing their jobs you subject yourself to the charge of Misconduct During An Emergency.

Rule #10 Don’t Riot

The party is getting out of control.  If more than five people are engaging in disorderly behavior the party may be deemed a riot under Ohio law.  Your participation in a riot may subject you to criminal penalties. If there is violence involved the rioting gets bumped up to aggravated rioting.  Aggravated rioting is a felony level offense.  Those found guilty of rioting and aggravated rioting must be dismissed from their university and are not permitted to enroll in any state-supported institution of higher education for one year.

DUI attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in Dayton, Springfield, Kettering, Vandalia, Xenia, Miamisburg, Huber Heights, Beavercreek, 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, www.facebook.com/daytondui and on the DaytonDUI channel on YouTube.  You can also email Charles Rowland at: CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.comor write to us at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324.

Ohio’s Felony OVI Look-Back Rule

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felony oviOhio has established a twenty year felony OVI look-back period.

A sixth or greater OVI (drunk driving) offense within a twenty year look-back period is a fourth degree felony OVI. R.C. 4511.19(G)(1)(d).  Another harsh provision under Ohio OVI  law is the “once a felony, always a felony” rule contained in R.C. 4511.19(G)(1)(e), meaning that any future DUI regardless of how many years have passed is charged as a third-degree felony.  This means that if you have many years of sobriety in between DUI convictions, you still face a felony rather than having your case treated as a first-in-six misdemeanor offense.

Felony OVI defense attorneys have challenged the constitutionality of these look-back provisions on the grounds that they violated due process and that they are a retroactive application of laws.  In State v. Miccap, 2006-Ohio-2854 (Ohio Ct. App. 9th Dist, Summit County), the 9th District Court of Appeals rejected these arguments and upheld the enhanced punishments.  It stated that the penalties imposed were not enhancements punishing prior conduct, but punishing any violations that occur after enactment of the enhancement provision.  In State v. Brooke, 113 Ohio St.3d 199, 863 N.E.2d 1024 (2007), the court upheld the right of a defendant to challenge whether or not a prior conviction was conducted in accordance with the rule of law.  For a complete discussion of Attack on prior convictions, see Ohio Driving Under the Influence Law, Weiler & Weiler J., 2009-2010 ed., pp 333-335.

Felony OVI is different from Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, O.R.C. 2903.06,  a crime that results from the death of another caused by the defendant’s operating a vehicle while impaired (a violation of R.C. 4511.19)  or while driving negligently or recklessly.  The statute  encompasses driving an automobile recklessly or negligently (called Vehicular homicide) whether or not alcohol played a part in the death. O.R.C. 2903.08, Aggravated Vehicular Assault is the crime of causing serious physical harm to a person while violating Ohio’s drunk driving statute.  Aggravated vehicular assault is a felony of the third degree.

OVI Breath Tests: Faulty Assumptions

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English: Bronchial anatomy detail of alveoli a...

Why do Ohio OVI attorneys question OVI breath tests?

Each of our lungs contain about 300 million small air sacs called “alveoli” that are responsible for the air exchange that keeps us alive.  In the alveoli, oxygen from the inhaled air is exchanged for carbon dioxide.  Air finds its way to the alveoli via the trachea which divides into the two main stems (bronchi) of the lungs.  From there, the air passes through sub-bronchi that may subdivide over 23 times.  As the air is passing through the lungs it passes over a rich layer of mucus which warms and humidifies it.

Like the exchange of carbon dioxide, when ethanol (drinking alcohol) is present, it too is exchanged in the lungs via the alveoli.  It is an inefficient system of exchange and we know this because you can smell an odor of an alcoholic beverage if a person has recently consumed.  The amount of alcohol that leaves the blood to via alveoli exchange is critically dependent on the blood alcohol concentration and the peculiarities of the person’s lung.

Drunk driving defense attorneys have long argued that the differences between human breathing and the dynamics of alcohol exchange at the alveoli level make the comparison questionable for purposes of evidential breath testing.  This exchange and its proposed value is based on Henry’s law, a chemical law which states that the proportion of alcohol contained in an air sample is comparable to the amount of alcohol contained in the blood.  Henry W., Experiments on the Quantity of Gases Absorbed by Water at Different Temperatures and Under Different Pressures. Philos Transcripts of the Royal Society 93:29-42, 1803.

If you have ever opened a cold beer you are familiar with Henry’s Law.  As the drink is poured small gas bubbles escape into the atmosphere.  Why? It is due to the decrease in pressure caused by opening the bottle and the increased if you pour the liquid into a glass which is hotter than the refrigerated beer bottle.

We can attack the operation of Henry’s Law in the accusation of drunk driving when a person is over-heated due to an illness or physical exertion like dancing.  The higher the temperature, the higher a breath test will be according to science.  Breathing patterns can also affect the concentration of alcohol in a breath sample.  This variation is primarily caused by the difference between the ambient air temperature and that of the human body.  Since it is impossible for any breath testing device to sample the air exchange at the alveolar level, it has to assume that the air coming out is of an equivalent alcohol concentration based on Henry’s Law.  It cannot and does not take into account any differences in the individual, the individual’s lungs or the differences in temperature between the ambient air and the sample.

Read more about the breath machine’s assumptions at Halstala, M.P. Physiological Errors Associated With Alcohol Breath Testing. The Champion 10:16-39, 1985.
Much of the information in this article comes from the International Association of Forensic Toxicologists.  Specifically the Proceedings of the 27th International Meeting held in Perth, Australia on October 19-23, 1990.

DUI attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in DaytonSpringfieldKetteringVandaliaXeniaMiamisburg, Huber Heights,Beavercreek, 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,www.facebook.com/daytondui and on the DaytonDUI channel on YouTube.  You can also email Charles Rowland at: CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.comor write to us at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324.