I recently became aware that the Ohio Legislature, with the blessing of the governor, recently amended Ohio law to read as follows:
"When a person is charged with two or more offenses as a result of or in connection with the same act and the final disposition of one, and only one, of the charges is a conviction under any section of Chapter 4507., 4510., 4511., or 4549., other than section 4511.19 or 4511.194 of the Revised Code, or under a municipal ordinance that is substantially similar to any section other than section 4511.19 or 4511.194 of the Revised Code contained in any of those chapters, and if the records pertaining to all the other charges would be eligible for sealing under section 2953.52 of the Revised Code in the absence of that conviction, the court may order that the records pertaining to all the charges be sealed. In such a case, the court shall not order that only a portion of the records be sealed."
Under this new law, an OVI/DUI conviction will preclude the sealing of records for criminal charges as a result of or in connection with the same act if the criminal charges are otherwise eligible for sealing. This new law was an attempt by the legislature to "fix" a situation, based upon a decision of the Supreme Court of Ohio (Pariag), which may have precluded the sealing of otherwise eligible criminal charges which arise out of the same act as certain traffic offenses.
The "fix" raises two issues; 1) If someone is stopped for driving under the influence of alcohol (OVI in Ohio) and drugs or evidence of some other non-alcohol criminal offense is discovered during the search of the individual or of the car, should that be considered "as a result of or in connection with the same act" as the OVI offense? I would think not, but I do believe that most courts will beg to differ; 2) While researching offenses contained in Ohio Revise Code Chapter 4549 I immediately found the offense of leaving the scene of an accident that involves serious physical harm or a fatality. These are both felony level offenses. Does our legislature really believe that an OVI/DUI, without injury, death or property damage, is more serious than a felony? Unfortunately, the legislature, as well as many courts, do believe this.
The list of collateral consequences of an OVI conviction (and in this case a Being in Physical Control of a Vehicle Under the Influence - ORC 4511.194), continues to grow. The government has now provided us with another reason to aggressively defend an OVI/DUI charge.
You don't need to face drunk driving charges alone. When you enlist the defense of The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc. for your case, you can be confident that we will aggressively protect your rights and seek the best possible results. We have offices in Columbus, Cleveland, and Delaware, and represent clients throughout the state of Ohio.Contact us today to get started with your free consultation!