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Does Ohio OVI Law Regarding Marijuana Make Sense?

No. In writing this blog article, I contemplated simply leaving at that, but Ohio law regarding different drugs in the system by urine or blood test really has almost no bearing on the defendant's ability to operate a motor vehicle. While Kentucky has not, Ohio has passed specific limits on presence of marijuana, cocaine and other drugs in a persons' blood or urine. For years the criminal defense lawyers and the prosecutors have debated whether the legal limit for alcohol of .10 which was lowered to .08 has any real bearing on a driver's impairment. While this issue is still debated, there is little doubt that the higher the blood alcohol concentration by breath, urine or blood test, the more intoxicated the person is and the more impaired they are to drive. After representing hundreds of DUI defendants and watching numerous video tapes and evaluating BAC results, there is definitely a correlation between impairment and blood alcohol levels. Many would argue that a person with a .08, and even with .10, blood alcohol level is not impaired. Video tapes often confirm that most individuals with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in that range show few, if any, signs of impairment. That said, rare is the case where a person has a valid BAC over .20 where there are not significant signs of impairment. When it is said that someone was two or three times the legal limit, there is a strong correlation of impairment to operate a motor vehicle. The same cannot be said about marijuana and many other drugs. The legal limit for marijuana in a person's urine is 10 nanograms per milliliter of urine. I recently represented two separate clients who had test results in the range of 500 ng/ml. One of those individuals advised that they had not smoked marijuana in more than 24 hours prior to operating a vehicle. I have seen video and these individuals do not appear impaired. Even if an argument is made that they were impaired, they are not fifty times (50x) as impaired as a person with 10 ng/ml. Furthermore, the presence of marijuana is not indicative as to a level of intoxication or impairment. The best literature shows that the effects of marijuana last for periods of 3-8 hours. The marijuana can be detected by blood or urine test for approximately 28 days after ingestion, with periods ranging from 3-90 days. While the prosecutors and legislators argue that marijuana is illegal in its own right, the two simply do not match for purposes of assuming impairment to operate a motor vehicle. The strict liability of a prohibitive blood or urine amount in Ohio is significantly flawed. Urge your legislators to reconsider the limits in ORC 4511.19. The Court is obliged to uphold the law and few municipal court judges have the moxie or desire to strike down legislative enactments. Further, it will take an individual with the desire and financial resources to take such a case to trial and appeal therefrom to overturn this law. Hopefully, the Court system will right this injustice. If you have been charged with OVI or DUI in Ohio or Kentucky, contact Michael Bouldin at mike@bouldinlawfirm.com or call 581-MIKE, 859-581-6453 to schedule a consultation.

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