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September 30, 2009

Split Ohio Supreme Court upholds criminal punishment for DUI arrestee refusing chemical test

As detailed in this official press release, this morning the Supreme Court of Ohio "upheld as constitutional a state law that imposes 10 additional days of mandatory jail time on a driver with a prior DUI conviction if that person refuses to take a chemical test after being arrested for a subsequent DUI violation."  The majority opinion in the 4-3 ruling in State v. Hoover, No. 2009-Ohio-4993 (Ohio Sept. 30, 2009) (available here), starts this way:

In this case, we consider the constitutionality of R.C. 4511.19(A)(2), which requires the imposition of criminal penalties upon certain persons who refuse to consent to chemical testing upon being arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a drug of abuse (“DUI”).  We hold that R.C. 4511.19(A)(2) does not violate the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution or Section 14, Article I of the Ohio Constitution.

The dissenting opinion starts this way:

The majority’s interpretation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(2) signals a fork in the road.  R.C. 4511.19(A)(2) veers from the traditional administrative punishment for refusal to consent to a chemical test upon an arrest for DUI and goes down a separate path, beyond the regulation of licensing; for certain DUI arrestees, R.C. 4511.19(A)(2) criminalizes the refusal to take a chemical test.  Since imposing a criminal penalty for refusing to consent infringes on a suspect’s rights under Section 14, Article I of the Ohio Constitution and the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, I dissent.

September 30, 2009 at 01:00 PM | Permalink

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