The 12th District Court of Appeals recently ruled on a case involving a DUI/OVI urine test and the right of every person to a speedy trial. The holding of the case, State v. Wieland, leads to a disturbing conclusion that needs to be addressed by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Wieland was pulled over on November 2, 2014 for a red light violation. The officer who pulled Wieland over suspected her of DUI/OVI and eventually placed her under arrest for DUI/OVI. The officer attempted twice to conduct a breath test. However, due to interference, breath test results could not be obtained. Therefore, the officer obtained a urine specimen from Wieland and sent the specimen for analysis.
The results of the urine analysis were reported to the state on November 24, 2014. However, Wieland was charged with DUI/OVI “impaired” on November 5, 2014. The state, in addition to the charge of DUI/OVI “impaired,” then charged Wieland with DUI/OVI “per se” on March 5, 2015 based on the lab results.
Wieland filed a motion to dismiss the charge on speedy trial grounds. However, the motion was denied and Weiland pled no contest to the DUI/OVI “impaired” charge. Wieland filed an appeal, raising the issue that the denial of her motion by the trial court was in error.
Speedy Trial Right
Wieland argued on appeal that the trial court erred in not granting her motion to dismiss because her right to a speedy trial was violated when the charge of DUI/OVI “per se” was added on March 5, 2015.
A criminal defendant has a fundamental right to a speedy trial that is guaranteed by the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution. In addition to this constitutional right, Ohio has enacted ORC 2945.71, which states that a person charged with a 1st degree misdemeanor must be brought to trial within 90 days after arrest.
In cases involving multiple indictments, the Ohio Supreme Court has held that “subsequent charges made against an accused would be subject to the same speedy trial constraints as the original charges if the additional charges arose from the same facts as the first indictment.” See State v. Baker. If, however, the subsequent charges arose from new and additional facts, unknown at the time of the original arrest, a new speedy trial period would apply.
Wieland argued that the charge filed on March 5, 2015 was based on facts known at the time the original charges were filed. Thus, the speedy trial clock began to run at that point and 90 days passed before the charge was filed on March 5, 2015. However, the court held that the state did not obtain the facts necessary to file the DUI/OVI “per se” charge until November 24, 2014 when the lab results were reported to the state. Therefore, the trial court was correct in overruling her motion to dismiss.
The Court of Appeals specifically held that the lab report of Wieland’s urine specimen constituted new facts and, thus, the speed trial clock ran anew and applied when the DUI/OVI “per se” charge was filed on March 5, 2015.
This Court’s opinion is disturbing. Test results from alcohol in a person’s body should not be considered “new facts.” The state charged Wieland with DUI/OVI based on the officer’s conclusion that Wieland was operating a vehicle while impaired. Moreover, the state had the urine test results three weeks after the original charge was filed and decided to sit on the evidence for three months before filing the additional charge. According to the Court’s opinion, since this is not a speedy trial violation, the police could wait to file charges for up to 2 years (the statute of limitations for misdemeanors in Ohio).
Columbus and Delaware, Ohio DUI/OVI Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with DUI/OVI in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, contact Johnson Legal, LLC and speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC will discuss your case and assist you in fighting the charges. Call (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation regarding your DUI/OVI case.