Admitting OVI Blood Tests Made Easier By Ohio Supreme Court
A REVIEW OF BLOOD TEST REGULATION IN OHIO
In Ohio, a blood test is administered by a crime lab or the collecting health care agency. The blood must be drawn by a licensed medical professional. In cases where blood tests are administered by a crime lab, the Ohio DUI driver’s blood sample must be drawn within three hours of the perceived infraction. In addition, it must be tested in compliance with regulations drafted by the Ohio Department of Health. Because of their complexity, an attorney focusing on DUI defense exclusively should be considered.
Please consult the articles on the ODH rules on this blog. The regulations include rules for collection and handling of blood samples, testing techniques, laboratory operations, permits, and records maintenance. In cases where DUI blood tests are administered by a hospital expert testimony regarding the blood test and how the result relates to impaired driving ability.
Ohio law requires you to take a blood, breath, or urine test if you are arrested for an OVI. Ohio’s “implied consent” law says that if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you have been operating under the influence, then you consent to taking a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining your blood alcohol content (BAC). The test must be taken within two hours of driving and the officer gets to choose which test you take. The question is, how strictly will the courts enforce the two-hour limit.
OHIO SUPREME COURT ADDRESSES BLOOD TEST ADMISSIBILITY
The Ohio Supreme Court clarified their position on the refrigeration of a blood sample. They address whether strict compliance is required. Answer, no! They also clarified, with great deference to the prosecution, what substantial compliance means. Spoiler alert: it is a quickly eroding standard. In State v. Baker, Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-451 the Ohio Supreme Court ruled on the admissibility of a blood test samples. In this case a Trooper left the sample unrefrigerated in his patrol car for over four (4) hours. The Ohio Supreme Court opinion reversed a lower court decision. The lower court ruled because the state did not strictly comply with the refrigeration requirement, the sample could not be used against the defendant. This case arose from a 2011 OVI charge that arose from accident that killed a pedestrian.
While giving lip service to the fact that strict compliance with the refrigeration rule is preferable, the Court recognized logistical issues of gathering and submitting samples may make strict compliance unrealistic in all cases. Citing State v. Plummer, where the Court in 1986 held that the failure to refrigerate a urine sample for four hours did not render the test results inadmissible, and State v. Mayl, a 2005 decision that cited Plummer, the Court determined that the failure to refrigerate a blood sample for as many as five hours substantially complied with the refrigeration requirement, permitting the sample to be used as evidence. The failure to refrigerate the defendant’s specimen for four hours and 10 minutes substantially complied with the rule and did not make the test results inadmissible per se.
OHIO SUPREME COURT CLARIFIES BLOOD TEST ADMISSIBILITY PROCEDURE
In this case, the court clarified the procedure for admitting blood-alcohol test results into evidence as established in the Court’s 2003 State v. Burnside decision. Burnside states that to challenge a blood test result, the defendant must file a motion to suppress. After the filing of a motion to suppress it becomes the responsibility of the state to demonstrate it substantially complied with the administrative rule. If the state proves substantial compliance, the burden then shifts back to the accused to show the failure to strictly comply made the test unreliable and prejudicial.
In opposition, a dissenting opinion was written by Justice William M. O’Neill. While he acknowledge that strict compliance is not always realistic or humanly possible, he concluded the majority decision makes the substantial compliance standard too low for such serious cases. Therefore, he stated the decision allows for the rule to be ignored. This blog has long argued that the “substantial compliance standard” is a fast-eroding standard that allows the court to admit evidence if the police try their best, or demonstrate a good faith effort, effectively shifting the burden of proof from the government to the defendant.
CONTACT CHARLES M. ROWLAND (DAYTONDUI) TODAY!
If you have questions about your blood test case, please contact me at (937) 318-1384. Also, you can also hear me lecture on this topic. I will be speaking on behalf of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys in November. In addition to these cases, I will be giving an update on Ohio OVI law. I hope you can be there. If not, please visit the DaytonDUI blog for all things OVI. Learn about city-specific OVI courts. Due to their complexity, review the law on blood, breath and urine testing. Stay abreast of developments in the law. As a result of my focus, I hope to have the most up-to-date information. I work hard to be the best DUI in Ohio. In conclusion, I take great pride in my work.