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Health experts are blaming drugged driving for a statewide spike in Ohio OVI arrests. But as police step up efforts to crack down on drug-impaired drivers, they may overstep their legal bounds and violate people’s rights.

Driving under the influence of drugs is a serious charge that can cause long-term damage to your employment, freedom, and finances. There are defenses to operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI), however. Police must have a legitimate reason to pull you over and must correctly administer sobriety tests. Moreover, those who are legally using a controlled substance may have an affirmative defense.

Graham Law’s criminal defense lawyers urge everyone to follow state OVI laws and not drive impaired. We also want to remind you that if you were arrested for OVI, or you’ve already been charged and released, we can provide experienced, competent, and aggressive defense.

Marijuana, Opioids Fuel Increase in OVIs

In 2017, OVI arrests in Ohio reached a five-year high, reports the Akron Beacon Journal. That year, nearly 64,000 new OVI cases were filed in Ohio courts—up 4.3 percent from the previous year.

Drugged driving is a major factor in the recent OVI uptick. Authorities point to the nation’s ongoing opioid crisis, but marijuana is an issue as well.

According to WSYX ABC 6, Ohio troopers arrested more than 63,000 motorists for drugged driving in 2017. In 2016, there were at least 4,615 drug-related crashes on Ohio roads, reports the Record-Courier.

Statewide, there has been a spike in OVI arrests for the first part of 2019, according to the Dayton Daily News. Experts cited in the Daily News article say greater availability of marijuana is to blame. Earlier this year, Ohio medical marijuana dispensaries opened for the first time.

Law Enforcement Response

The drugged driving problem has led to new law enforcement efforts. As ABC 6 explains, the Ohio State Highway Patrol is asking for the public’s help. Signs are popping up across the state encouraging motorists to call #677 to report possible drugged drivers.

Officers are also receiving training to identify drug-impaired drivers. This can be a challenge, because each drug produces different driver signs. For example, marijuana has a telltale odor and can produce bloodshot eyes and eyelid tremors, while painkillers tend to constrict the pupils, notes the Beacon Journal.

If a field sobriety test is inconclusive, officers might additionally order a blood test or urinalysis. Ohio law sets maximum limits for particular controlled substances, including marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine.

Drugged Driving Defenses

The dangers of drugged driving are indisputable. Controlled substances slow reaction times and increase crash risks. But if you are pulled over on suspicion of drugged driving, you still have rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to call an attorney.

In addition, there are defenses to OVI in Ohio, such as the following:

  • The officer must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over. Traffic stops initiated without suspicion of a crime or traffic violation may be illegal.
  • The field sobriety test was not administered properly. If an officer does not follow training protocol in the admission of a sobriety test, the evidence may be inadmissible.
  • There are flaws in the blood or urine testing, either with how the sample was drawn, or in the results. Examples include false positives, contaminated samples, and improperly stored samples.
  • You have a prescription for a controlled substance and are using it in accordance with a health professional’s directions.

Get Legal Help From Our Zanesville OVI Attorneys

Drivers who find themselves facing drugged driving charges should immediately contact Graham Law. We understand the life-changing effects of an OVI arrest. No matter the circumstances, our criminal defense lawyers are ready to protect your rights.

Call 1-800-621-8585 or contact us to speak with an attorney, free of charge.

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