Robert R. Hart, Jr., Attorney at Law
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Ohio Traffic Law Blog

Ohioans with suspended licenses may qualify for amnesty

A driver's license is often more than a luxury. For many people in Ohio, it is necessary to maintain a job, to obtain food for oneself and one's family and to access medical care. Even so, hundreds of thousands of people statewide have had their licenses suspended in the past year alone. In some situations, people lost their licenses as a result of violating traffic laws, but in other cases, the reason for the suspension has nothing to do with driving. For this reason, calls for the state to reform its license suspension laws have received bipartisan support from an increasing number of constituents from across Ohio. 

As of January 31st, the state has answered the call with a driver amnesty program that will last for six months and allow drivers who have had their licenses suspended for certain offenses to reinstate them while paying no fee. The program is not available to people who lost their licenses as a result of an offense related to alcohol, but there are 25 other offenses that do qualify. These include traffic violations such as reckless operation, failure to stop after an accident or for a school bus and operating a vehicle without a license, as well as offenses unrelated to driving, such as truancy or juvenile delinquency. 

Portage County judge facing DUI charges

It is not as though the dangers associated with drunk driving are a recent discovery. This may cause some to question how is it that anyone would make the mistake of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. The fact that it still happens may speak to just how much drinking can inhibit someone's judgment. Of course, people may understand this as well, which then may cause some to wonder if whether the fact that people still drink and drive might be an indication of their dependence on alcohol. 

Oftentimes, those arrested for DUI are people that many would say should know better. Given their familiarity with their states' criminal codes, those who have worked as criminal law attorneys might be the last people would expect to drive drunk. Yet a recent DUI case in Brimfield seemingly dispels this notion. A Portage County Common Pleas Court judge (who had formerly worked as  Mahoning County prosecutor) was arrested for drunk driving after a law enforcement officer discovered her after she had reportedly crashed her SUV into a ditch. The officer's body cam recorded the details of their interaction, which included her admitting to him that she was intoxicated.  

Traffic tickets could jeopardize your employment prospects

You're driving down the road when your brain registers sirens behind you. You move over to the side, hoping that the patrol car will go past you, but it doesn't. You pull all the way over off the road and wonder what you did to draw the attention of a police officer.

By the time your encounter with the officer ends, you drive off with a traffic citation. Even though you don't really want to pay the cost of the ticket, you may think that doing so as quickly as possible will put this unpleasant business behind you. Before you do that, however, you may want to take the time to consider what ramifications that citation could have on your employment prospects.

Moving over for emergency vehicles and others

With weeks of winter still ahead, chances are good you will see emergency vehicles, snowplows and tow trucks if you are traveling in or through Ohio. These responders often place their own lives and safety in danger to help others in the most miserable conditions, including cold, rain and dangerous traffic.

Even on a clear day, you may see a police officer on the shoulder of the road assisting a motorist or writing a citation. Your instinct may be to slow down to avoid getting a ticket of your own. However, Ohio law requires you to consider the safety of the officer as well.

Death of Ohio pedestrian results in prison for driver

The penalties for drunk driving and driving under suspension in Ohio are serious enough individually. Drunk driving on a suspended license can be mean even more severe consequences. If someone becomes hurt as a result of these activities, one can expect the penalty to include jail time if convicted. A 22-year-old man is a case in point as the court recently sentenced him to 10 years in prison for an alleged drunk driving hit-and-run that resulted in the death of a 30-year-old mother of two who was walking down the street in Canton at the time the accident occurred in July 2018. 

The driver had reportedly attended a wedding reception where he had allegedly imbibed alcohol, before getting into a truck and leaving to attend another party. Records show that the young man had had a prior drunk driving conviction that had resulted in a suspended license. His blood alcohol level at the time is not known, nor is it known how fast the vehicle was traveling. 

How per se laws affect your OVI arrest

Police officers who pull you over under suspicion of OVI have many methods of obtaining evidence to use against you in court to make those charges stick. From the moment they approach your vehicle, they are on the alert for signs that you have been drinking and that you are impaired. They study your eyes, your hands and your body movement. They listen for you to slur your words, observe the air for odors of alcohol, and test your balance and coordination.

However, none of these observations may carry as much weight as your blood alcohol concentration, which they obtain from a breath or blood test. This test measures whether the percentage of alcohol in your blood is higher than the legal limit. If your BAC is .08 percent or higher, police may need no more evidence to take to court.

Can my health make it hard to pass a field test?

If you are like many people in Ohio, you may have some misconceptions about what happens during a drunk driving investigation. These misconceptions may even include the belief that the testing used by law enforcement officers is foolproof. This is actually quite far from the truth. As explained by FieldSobrietyTests.org, each of the three field tests administered have some level of known inaccuracy. Even when all three tests are used, some potential for error exists.

The one-leg stand test is said to have an accuracy rate of 65 percent while the walk-and-turn test's accuracy rate is only slightly higher at 68 percent. If you are overweight or have had problems with your knees, legs, hips, back or feet, you may not be able to perform these tests as instructed, putting you at a disadvantage even if you have not been drinking.

New distracted driving laws in 2019

Most adults in Ohio have likely used a cell phone while driving in their cars. Over the last several years, a lot of attention has been placed on phone use by drivers and today, there are a variety of headsets or technologies built into vehicles to allow people to make and receive phone calls while driving without taking their hands off the steering wheels

As reported by WVXU.org, Ohio's distracted driving law was what is known as a secondary law. This means that a police officer can not pull a driver over for this offense. However, once a driver is stopped, the officer may be able to add distracted driving to another citation or violation. However, starting in 2019, that will all change and distracted driving will become a primary offense throughout the state.

Should you fight for an ignition interlock device?

You made the mistake of driving when your blood alcohol concentration was too high. You may not have even realized it because you felt fine, but when an officer pulled you over, a breath test proved you wrong.

If no question regarding the accuracy of the breath test exists, you may find yourself facing a lengthy suspension of your driver's license. However, you may be able to drive if you agree to use an ignition interlock device. You just need to better understand what they are and how they work.

Lane violation stop leads to drunk driving arrest

People who live in Ohio should be aware of how a person might end up being investigated for suspected drunk driving. These situations generally start with a driver being pulled over by an officer for a reason that may have nothing at all to do with potentially being impaired. In fact, an officer might have no such thoughts in their mind in some cases while in other cases an officer might think there is a chance a driver could be impaired based on how they are driving. Nonetheless, the officer must have a solid cause before stopping a driver.

In the case of a sheriff's deputy from Lucas County, ToledoBlade.com reports that the man was stopped by the Ohio Highway Patrol for some type of traffic lane violation. It is not known exactly what the violation is but one example might be failing to drive in one lane and, instead, partially veering into an adjacent lane of traffic.

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