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Pulled Over Sober? You Might Still Need a DUI Lawyer

columbus criminal defense lawyer

Getting charged with an OVI for THC is a lot easier than you think

In Ohio (and most other states), it’s a crime to drive drunk. And that includes driving stoned on pot, driving while “geeked” on coke and so on.

There are generally two ways to get caught. The first is the traditional “impaired” offense. Here the prosecutors have to prove that the driver was under the influence of something (booze, pot, opiates, coke, etc.). In Ohio, that means the substance had an “appreciable” effect on the person’s ability to drive a car or other motor vehicle. What does “appreciable” mean? Who knows? Ask a jury.

The other way to make a drunk driving case is when someone is driving with a prohibited content of booze or drugs in their blood, breath or urine. For example, we all know the guy who can drink 20 Busch Lights and look fine. And, truth be told, he can probably drive pretty well, too. He’s been doing it for years, and practice makes perfect. But the law doesn’t care. It’s a crime to drive with a blood, breath or urine content above the limit (.08 in most Ohio cases.) In Ohio, DUI lawyers call this a per se offense.

So what’s this have to do with legal pot? Well, here’s the trick. It’s a crime in Ohio to drive a car with a prohibited concentration of THC (the good stuff in marijuana) in your system. But wait. This hardly seems fair. We all know that it takes several weeks, or even months, to get the THC out of the system.  This means that we can be accused of a per se marijuana OVI offense even if we haven’t smoked, eaten brownies, vaped or whatever right before driving. In fact, we could be completely sober driving to work.

Getting pulled over sober in a criminalized state

Now with legalized pot in various states, the matter gets even more complicated. Consider the happy dude from Colorado is on a nice road trip to the East Coast. While still in Colorado, he goes to the store, buys his supply of pot, and goes home to smoke. He hangs out, eats his Doritos, packs his stuff, and leaves in the morning—totally sober.

Columbus criminal defense

He drives to Ohio and gets pulled over. Maybe the cops think he’s speeding. Maybe they are just suspicious of his Volkswagen bus with psychedelic flowers all over it. Either way, he appears tired and maybe has some speech slurring, so they ask him to pee in a cup. He doesn’t think anything of it. He hasn’t been drinking or doing anything else to impair him. But it comes back positive for THC. Now he’s in Ohio, from Colorado, and has an OVI to fight.

This scenario is very real. And, so far, Ohio laws leave no room for those who have medical pot cards, have come from a “legal” state or have pot in their system. It’s still a crime.

As we deal with the new legalization movement, these issues are going to get complicated. But there are still defenses. There are still ways to challenge urine tests and blood tests. But don’t think you’re getting a pass just because you can smoke in your home town. Ohio doesn’t care. At least not yet…

The moral? Pot is still a crime in Ohio. And until the feds and/or everyone else do something, there are going to be a lot of complications. If you’ve been charged, schedule an appointment with a Columbus DUI lawyer today to get the expert defense you need.

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