Ohio judge explains blood test ruling

Oct 28, 2016 | drunk driving

According to the Ohio Administrative Code, blood or urine samples are to be refrigerated unless under examination or in transit. This issue came up in a case that was brought to the Ohio Supreme Court in February 2016. The case in question involved a man who had struck a pedestrian in March 2011 while driving on United States Route 6. While the man was sitting the police officer’s cruiser completing an accident report, the officer noticed a smell of alcohol on the man.

The man admitted to having as many as seven drinks earlier in the evening. At 1:50 a.m., a blood test was administered at a local hospital, but it was not submitted to the Ohio State Highway Patrol Crime Laboratory until 6 a.m. At trial, the man claimed that the evidence should be suppressed while the state argued that it had complied substantially with the law. A trial judge sided with the man, and the case was appealed.

On appeal, two of three judges reviewing the case found in favor of the driver. The case was then sent to the Ohio Supreme Court, which ruled 6-1 that the state did comply substantially with the law, and the case was sent back to the trial court. Although the court would have preferred to see the test sent and refrigerated quicker, logistical issues in this case or others could make doing so impossible. Therefore, four hours and 10 minutes was within the time frame deemed acceptable by the court.

Drivers who are charged with an OVI may be subject to many penalties including jail time and fines. However, an attorney may be able to help a driver avoid some or all of those penalties. For instance, it may be possible to argue that blood tests were taken illegally without a warrant or were not properly stored. This may lead to a plea bargain or acquittal.