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SCOTUS to Rule on Drunk Driving Tests

Supreme CourtOn December 11, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) agreed to hear several cases that could change drunk driving investigations nationwide. These cases relate to whether or not a search warrant is necessary before forcing someone to take a breath or blood test to measure his breath or blood alcohol content (BAC). If SCOTUS rules that forced BAC testing without a search warrant is unconstitutional, the decision would force changes in Ohio law.

What can we expect from the Supreme Court ruling?

The SCOTUS ruled on a similar case, Missouri v. McNeely, in 2013. In its decision, the Court ruled that police should obtain a search warrant before BAC testing if there is enough time. However, it does allow police to conduct testing without a warrant under “exigent circumstances.” The expected decision would not amend that ruling but instead supplement it to outline what exactly constitutes “exigent circumstances,” when a search warrant should be required, and whether drivers can face criminal charges for refusing.

All Americans have the right to avoid unwarranted searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment except under specific conditions, known as exigent circumstances.

Missouri v. McNeely left the exigent circumstances in a drunk driving case open to interpretation. The ruling says that the natural metabolism of alcohol over time does not always amount to exigent circumstances, but officers should consider the necessity of a search warrant on a case-by-case basis.

What are the current Ohio laws for BAC testing?

Currently, police officers can force Ohio drivers arrested for drunk driving to provide a blood sample even if they refuse to submit to a breath test. This can occur if:

  • The police officer obtains a search warrant from a judge, or
  • If there are exigent circumstances and no time to get a warrant

Under Ohio law, exigent circumstances can include destruction of evidence, so in some cases a forced blood draw without a warrant may be legal if the officers cannot obtain the search warrant before the BAC level decreases.

Law enforcement officers are empowered to use any “reasonable means” to obtain the sample for testing and are protected from assault charges or other consequences of these actions.

Currently, Ohio drivers who refuse testing typically face criminal charges for doing so. If the Court rules that a warrant is needed in order to force testing, police would not be able to charge drivers with a crime for refusing testing unless they have a warrant.

In what ways would this ruling change how lawyers defend drunk driving cases?

Attorneys know that in order to have the charges dropped against a client, the key often lies in proving whether or not officers followed proper procedures during the traffic stop and arrest.

The arresting officer and others involved in the arrest and detainment of a driver must follow strict protocol, including:

  • Having probable cause for the stop
  • Following required procedures for determining possible intoxication
  • Properly calibrating breathalyzers and other testing tools
  • Conducting testing as required by the law
  • Informing the driver of all applicable rights under the law

When officers do not follow these procedures, the defense lawyer can advocate for the client by appealing the administrative license suspension (ALS) and by requesting the charges be lessened or dropped.

If the SCOTUS rules that a search warrant is required before forced BAC testing, this will give lawyers another issue to consider when building a defense for their clients. If officers did not obtain a search warrant properly or obtained it without probable cause, the chemical evidence officers collected may not be admissible. Without these BAC readings, it will be much harder to successfully prosecute the driver.

How could this ruling affect drivers?

The upcoming SCOTUS decision could prevent Ohio police from forcing drivers to undergo BAC testing without a warrant. The ruling could also alter Ohio’s implied consent laws, making it more advantageous to refuse testing until there is a search warrant issued.

Currently, Ohio’s implied consent law allows officers to immediately suspend a driver’s license and charge him with a misdemeanor if he refuses testing. If the Supreme Court rules that a search warrant is necessary to force BAC testing, it may also change or strike down the law that allows this type of penalty for refusal of testing.

At The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A., we pride ourselves on protecting our clients’ rights to the full extent of the law. If you are facing charges for a drunk driving offense in Ohio, our Cincinnati DUI defense lawyers can help. Contact us today at 513-621-8700 to schedule an appointment.

Click here to read more about what happens if you refuse a blood alcohol test in Cincinnati, Ohio.

DUI Across the Tri-State

DUI Across the TristateKentucky. Ohio. Indiana. If you live in Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky, you probably cross state lines quite frequently. Even though our states are neighbors, that doesn’t mean we have the same laws. If you drive in and out of Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, or cities nearby in Indiana, it is important to know that each state has different penalties for a DUI.

If you get a DUI in Ohio, and within five years, you get another DUI, this time in Indiana, you could experience Indiana’s consequences for a second DUI offense. For a second offense in Ohio, the maximum jail sentence is six months. In Indiana, it is three years.

At The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A., we fight for people’s rights after they’ve been arrested for a DUI in Ohio and Kentucky. We think it is important that you understand the different penalties across state lines. Please check out our infographic and learn more.

New Driving Restrictions to Keep Teens Safe on the Road

Teen DriverMotor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This is why Ohio has taken strides to keep inexperienced teen drivers safe on the road.

As of July 8, 2015, drivers who are issued a probationary license are restricted on when they can drive and how many passengers can be in the car. In the past, these restrictions were based on the age of the driver, but this new driving law is based on the experience of the driver.

Changing the driving times and passenger limitations is the result of the state’s “Drive Toward a Safer Ohio Initiative.” In an effort to increase the experience of young drivers, these restrictions during the first 12 months of driving are designed to reduce their risks while helping them become safer drivers.

What Do These New Restrictions Mean for Teen Drivers?

The following restrictions are now in place for probationary drivers under the age of 18 during the first 12 months of possessing a driver’s license:

  • No driving between midnight and 6:00 a.m., unless that driver is accompanied by a parent or guardian. The only individuals exempt from this restriction are those with valid documentation from work, school, or church, allowing for travel during these hours.
  • No driving is allowed with more than one non-family member in the vehicle.
  • All passengers must wear safety belts at all times.
  • No use of mobile communication devices while operating the vehicle.

Driver Safety is a Group Effort

Your teen may walk out of the BMV with a license, but honing their driving skills takes time. Helping young drivers develop the faculties to make safe decisions on the road requires the time, patience, and the expertise of many—qualified driving instructors, involved parents, concerned schools, and those at the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

For more information about driver safety, visit Ohio Driver Training.

If you have questions about these new restrictions or any other Ohio driving laws, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A. today.


6 Things to Remember if You’re Pulled Over for DUI

Cincinnati Police carGetting pulled over is scary in any circumstance, and as DUI attorneys, we understand your fears. When you’re accused of driving under the influence, you’re likely concerned about paying lofty fines, spending time in jail, or even losing your license.

Here at The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A., we hope you don’t find yourself in this situation in the first place. Drinking and driving has many negative consequences and could cost you your—or someone else’s—life. But if you are pulled over for DUI, there are a few things you should remember.

1. Always Have your Documentation Available

You already know that the cops are going to ask for your license, registration, and insurance card, so keep them somewhere you can access without fumbling. Fumbling is one observation the police can use as probable cause to arrest you for DUI.

2. Always be Polite and Respectful, but Don’t Answer Questions

Give only your name, address, phone number, date of birth, and social security number. By not answering questions, you can avoid making any statements that could admit guilt. You should not be rude to the office either. When they ask you what or when you last ate, how much you’ve had to drink, or where you’re coming from, simply say that you’ve been advised by a lawyer at The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A. not to answer these types of questions. One exception to this is if you are on medication or have a medical condition that may make defending against a DUI easier.

3. Don’t Take Field Sobriety Tests

There are no laws saying you are forced to take the field sobriety tests, which are entirely subject the officer administering them. In Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, you may go to jail for refusing the tests, but there will be much less concrete evidence against you.

4. Don’t Blow into a Breathalyzer

Breathalyzers can be unreliable, and will only be used as further proof against you. If you are over 21, you are not required to take this test. However, anyone under the age of 21 must take the test is asked by an officer.

See the Know Your Limit chart.

5. Use your Passengers as Witnesses

If there are passengers in your vehicle at the time you are pulled over, have them turn around to observe you. They may be able to refute the officer’s statements about your behavior at the scene. They can use their cell phones to video the entire encounter.

6. Phone a Friend

When you’re given the opportunity to make a phone call at the police station, call a friend and allow them to hear that you are not slurring your words. If you’re given multiple phone calls, leave a message to your own phone that can be played back at trial as evidence that you weren’t incoherent.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI in the tri-state area, you have options—let’s use them. The experienced DUI defense attorneys at The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A. are committed to securing the best resolution for your case. Contact us ASAP to schedule your free consultation.

7 Tips for Talking to Your Teen about Drinking and Driving

GuinnessLet’s face it—drinking and driving poses a significant danger to people at any age. But the risks are even more magnified with young, inexperienced drivers. As DUI lawyers, we’ve seen the devastating effects that drinking and driving can cause for teens and their families. They could lose their driving privileges, their ability to get a job, or worst of all, their life.

This is why it is incredibly important to talk to your teen about drinking and driving, even if they don’t have their license yet. We’ve assembled a list of tips to educate your son or daughter about the dangers of drinking and driving.

1. Set a good example.

If you’re not setting an example of responsible drinking behavior, you can’t expect your teen to act responsibly in similar situations. That means never getting behind the wheel after you’ve had a few drinks, even if you think you’re not drunk. Never communicate to your child that alcohol is a good way to handle problems. You could set a lifelong positive impression by calling a cab or an Uber and leaving your car in a parking lot after consuming alcohol.

[Read more…]

What do I do at a DUI Checkpoint in Cincinnati?

How have you spent this hot, humid summer here in Cincinnati? With 4th of July festivities and All Star Game events, there was certainly not a lack of things to do.

And while holidays and other summer activities–from Riverbend country concerts to evenings in Newport–are fun, it is important that you protect yourself and others while you do so.

And as DUI attorneys at The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A., we think one of the best ways to protect you and your family members is by learning about the do’s and don’ts of DUI checkpoints.

What are sobriety checkpoints?

Sobriety checkpoints are when police officers stop vehicles in a sequence to check and see if drivers are impaired by drugs or alcohol. Sometimes they stop every car, other times every other car, or every third, etc.

Are there more sobriety checkpoints on holiday weekends?

Sometimes, but not necessarily; holiday weekends usually imply that there will be more alcohol consumption, but that doesn’t mean there will be more checkpoints. DUI checkpoints are actually done quite regularly on the weekends.

There are ways to check and see if there will be a checkpoint in your area. At The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A., we do our best to alert you if there will be.

If you want to stay up to date on local DUI checkpoints, follow our Facebook page.

There will most likely be more officers patrolling the roads, especially in high volume areas. Expect there to be more police officers on the roads surrounding popular firework displays.

Does every driver get stopped at a DUI checkpoint?

Not necessarily. For example, let’s say you are getting off of I-75 North on your way home. A police officer is at the exit, stopping every other car. Depending on the order, you may not be stopped. Know though that if you show signs of impairment at the checkpoint an officer can pull you over.

What do I do if I get stopped at a DUI checkpoint?

Cooperate with the police officer and be polite, but know you have rights, regardless of whether or not you are not impaired. Know that you do not have to take the sobriety tests. If the officer asks you to, politely decline, and say that your attorney said you are not required to take the test.

For more information on what to do if you get pulled over and you’ve been drinking, please read our frequently asked questions about DUIs. Call us if you have any questions.

From all of us at The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A., have a happy and safe summer here in Cincinnati, Ohio!