Testing For Drugged Driving In Ohio

Various Tests Used In Ohio Drugged Driving Cases
When a driver is investigated for operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs in Ohio, various tests are administered.  When a law enforcement officer suspects a driver is under the influence of drugs, the officer typically has the driver perform field sobriety tests.  Some of those tests are standardized, and some of those tests are non-standardized.  Those tests are administered at the scene, typically before the driver is arrested.  After the driver is arrested, there is additional testing.  There may be tests done in the form of a Drug Recognition Evaluation, and there may also be chemical testing of the driver’s blood and/or urine.

Field Sobriety Tests And OVI / DUI Drugs
During the roadside investigation of a suspected drugged driver, a law enforcement officer usually administers field sobriety tests.  There are three field sobriety tests which have been standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):  the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test (follow a pen or finger with the eyes), the Walk And Turn (WAT) test, and the One Leg Stand (OLS) test.  During each of those tests, the officer is looking for ‘clues’.  According to the NHTSA scoring criteria for the tests, if the officer observes a minimum number of ‘clues’, the driver is likely to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08%.  

In addition to the standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs), there are non-standardized tests used by officers.  Those include counting backward, reciting a partial alphabet, converging (crossing) the eyes, touching a finger to the nose, estimating 30 seconds with eyes closed, and sequentially touching fingers together.  The non-standardized tests do not have scoring criteria and do not have a correlation with testing over .08% BAC.  Officers use the results of the standardized tests, the non-standardized tests, and other observed evidence to determine whether to arrest the driver and charge the driver with DUI / OVI.  The results of those tests are also used in court to prove the driver’s guilt.  More information on these tests is found in this website’s page for 'Field Sobriety Tests In Ohio'.

Drug Recognition Evaluations In Ohio DUI / OVI Cases
The standardized field sobriety tests are not correlated with intoxication from drugs:  they are only correlated with an expected blood alcohol concentration.  To help officers detect intoxication from drug use, NHTSA developed the Drug Recognition Evaluation.  Unlike the field sobriety tests, which are conducted before the arrest at the side of the road, drug recognition evaluations are conducted after the arrest, typically at a police station.  The results of the evaluation are not used to help the officer make an arrest decision, because the arrest was already completed, but they are used as evidence in court to prove the driver’s guilt.  The evaluation includes tests of the eyes, muscle tone, and vital signs, as well as collection of a breath sample and a blood and/or urine sample.  More information about these evaluations can be found in this website’s page for ‘Drug Recognition Evaluations In Ohio’.

Blood And Urine Testing In Ohio Drugged Driving Cases
Blood and urine samples are subjected to chemical testing to determine the type and quantity of drug(s) in the sample.  In Ohio, there must be two chemical tests administered on a sample:  an initial test using one analytical technique and a confirmation test using a different analytical technique.  There are six analytical techniques which may be used.  The techniques most commonly used in Ohio are gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy.

For the test results to be admitted as evidence in court, the tests must be administered in accordance with regulations issued by the Ohio Department of Health.  In addition, blood test results are only admissible if the blood sample was obtained pursuant to a search warrant or an applicable exception to the search warrant requirement.  The same is probably true of urine test results, but that issue has not been definitively decided in Ohio.  More information regarding these tests is located on the pages of this website for ‘Blood Tests In Ohio’ and ‘Urine Tests In Ohio’.

Attorneys For Ohio Drugged Driving Cases
The attorneys at the Dominy Law Firm understand the various testing methods used in drug-related DUI / OVI cases.  Our firm practices only criminal defense, with a focus on representing clients charged with DUI / OVI.  If you were charged with driving under the influence of drugs in central Ohio and would like to schedule a free phone consultation to discuss your case, you can do that by calling 614-717-1177 or by submitting this CONTACT FORM.

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