Testing For Marijuana OVI / DUI In Ohio

Tests Used In Ohio Marijuana DUI / OVI Cases
When a person is suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana, a variety of tests are conducted.  Some tests are performed in the field to help the officer determine whether to arrest the driver.  If the driver is arrested, an officer may administer a drug recognition evaluation.  An officer also typically requests that the driver provide a blood or urine sample.  If the driver provides a blood or urine sample, chemical tests are administered to determine the level of marijuana (metabolite) in the sample.  

Field Tests For DUI / OVI Marijuana
If a police officer believes a driver is under the influence, the officer will likely administer a battery of tests.  Three tests developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are considered ‘standardized’ tests.  Those are the Walk And Turn, One Leg Stand, and Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus.  Studies have correlated performance on those tests with blood alcohol concentration (BAC).  According to the studies, a person who exhibits a certain number of ‘clues’ on the tests will likely have a BAC over .08%.  However, the standardized field sobriety tests have not been correlated with levels of marijuana and have not been directly correlated with driving impairment due to marijuana use.  

In addition to the standardized tests, the officer in the field may also administer non-standardized tests.  Those include a finger-to-nose test, a finger-touching test, a time-estimation test, a partial alphabet test, and backward-counting test.  These tests have no standardized criteria for administration or scoring and have no proven correlation with marijuana impairment.  The officer may also conduct a Lack of Convergence test to see if the driver’s eyes cross, as well as an examination of the drive’s pupil size.  Studies do show the lack of eye convergence and dilated pupils are related to marijuana ingestion.  However, there is not a proven correlation between lack of convergence or dilated pupils and the level of marijuana metabolite in a person’s system.  There are portable chemical tests for roadside use which detect marijuana metabolites in a person’s oral fluid, but, to our knowledge, those tests are not yet used in Ohio.

Drug Recognition Evaluations
After a driver is arrested and taken to a jail or police station, a drug recognition evaluation may be administered.  This evaluation must be administered by a certified Drug Recognition Evaluator (also referred to as a Drug Recognition Expert).  The evaluation consists of a 12-step examination of the driver’s vital signs, muscle tone, and eyes, as well as a breath test and collection of a blood or urine sample.  More details about these examinations are discussed in this website’s page on ‘Drug Recognition Evaluations’.  

Chemical Tests For Marijuana DUI / OVI
As part of the DUI / OVI investigation, the officer will likely request a blood or urine sample from the driver.  A sample may only be obtained with a search warrant, the consent of the driver, or exigent circumstances (unless the driver is unconscious).  When a driver submits a blood or urine sample, the officer sends the sample to a crime laboratory where a laboratory technician performs a chemical test to determine the level of marijuana metabolite in the blood or urine sample.

The chemical tests must be administered using methods approved by the Ohio Department of Health.  While there are six approved methods, the methods typically used in these cases are gas chromatography and mass spectrometry.  The Ohio Department of Health developed regulations for chemical testing, and, if a blood or urine test does not comply with those regulations, the test results are not admissible in court.  If the test results are admissible in court, the accuracy of the tests can still be challenged at trial.  There are a number of potential errors which can affect the accuracy of test results.

Lawyers For Ohio DUI / OVI Cases Involving Marijuana
Marijuana OVI cases can be complex.  If you are contesting an OVI case involving marijuana, it would be advantageous to be represented by a lawyer with knowledge and experience with marijuana OVI testing.  The lawyers at the Dominy Law Firm understand the tests used for marijuana OVI cases and regularly handle marijuana OVI cases.  If you have a marijuana OVI case in central Ohio and would like to talk with us about representation, you can arrange a free phone consultation by submitting a CONTACT FORM or by calling our office at 614-717-1177.

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