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Can You Get an OVI from Driving High in Ohio?

Updated: February 14, 2022
Nicholas G. Gounaris
By Nicholas G. Gounaris

Nicholas G. Gounaris is a skilled trial lawyer and founding partner of Gounaris Abboud law firm. He provides clients of the firm with competent legal representation and focuses his law practice in the areas of DUI Defense, Criminal Defense, Family Law Issues, Federal Criminal Law and Personal Injury cases.

OVI charges

Ohio OVI laws regarding marijuana are strict because driving while high is dangerous.

Even if you don’t feel “high,” any amount of marijuana you consume may affect your ability to drive safely.

Like alcohol, marijuana use slows reaction times, impairs judgment, and reduces concentration levels.

Some studies suggest that a person driving while high on weed may be twice as likely to be involved in a car crash.

Police in Ohio know this and are on the lookout for people driving while high.

If you face charges of driving under the influence of marijuana, then you need a tough and experienced Ohio DUI lawyer to fight your charges.

At Gounaris Abboud, LPA., our DUI defense attorneys have over 50 years of combined legal experience. We have won dismissals or reduced penalties for hundreds of our DUI clients.

We tailor our defense strategy to your needs to give you the best chance of achieving a favorable result.

Can You Get an DUI for Weed?

Even though Ohio has not legalized marijuana for recreational use, Ohio residents can get medical marijuana with a prescription.

Since medical marijuana is legal, you might be wondering, Can you get a DUI for weed even if you have a medical marijuana card? The answer is quite simple.

Under Ohio law, operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (OVI) is a crime.

Therefore, the police can charge you with OVI if they have probable cause to believe that you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. 

Officers receive extensive training on identifying intoxicated drivers. They learn to look for signs of intoxication such as the person’s driving pattern, manner of speech, ability to follow instructions, performance on field sobriety tests, and other factors. 

Officers may know pretty quickly when someone might be under the influence of alcohol. One of the first things that an officer may notice is the smell of alcohol from the driver’s breath.

That’s often the first indicator that someone is drunk driving. But what happens if someone shows signs of intoxication but there is no odor of alcohol on the person?

Drug Recognition Experts

Law enforcement agencies in Ohio started programs to help officers better identify people who are driving while high.

The Ohio State Police now use the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) program as a tool to identify people driving under the influence of drugs. 

The DRE program trains officers on the typical indicators of a person impaired by drugs, including marijuana.

Once they complete the training, DREs can assist other officers at accident scenes or investigations of persons suspected of OVI. 

Field sobriety tests are one of the investigative tools DREs use. Field sobriety tests might help DREs conclude that a person is under the influence of a drug like heroin or prescription pills.

However, field sobriety tests are unreliable when investigating someone for driving while high on weed. 

Experts studied field sobriety tests to determine if they could detect someone under the influence of marijuana. The analysis showed that standard field sobriety tests could not detect a person who is high on weed accurately.

That means field sobriety tests are useless to determine if someone is under the influence of marijuana while driving.

Therefore, a knowledgeable OVI defense lawyer can make a strong argument to keep a DRE’s opinion of intoxication out of evidence at trial.

Chemical Testing for Marijuana

Ohio is one of a handful of states that have a per se law for alcohol as well as marijuana and other drugs.

By now, most people understand that driving with an alcohol concentration of 0.08% or above is a crime, even if you show no signs of intoxication.

The same is true for marijuana, except that there is no breathalyzer test for marijuana. Instead, the police obtain either a blood sample or a urine sample from the suspect. Laboratory technicians then test the specimens. 

Under Ohio law, a person operates a vehicle under the influence of marijuana when they have 10 nanograms of marijuana per milliliter of urine or two nanograms per milliliter of marijuana in their blood. 

Additionally, police can charge you with OVI if you have a marijuana metabolite in your blood or urine. A marijuana metabolite is the by-product of marijuana in your system after your liver begins to break it down.

Tests can detect marijuana metabolites up to five days after ingestion or longer, depending on the test.

You could face an OVI charge for having 35 nanograms of marijuana metabolite per milliliter of urine or 50 nanograms per milliliter of blood.

Additionally, the law allows you to be charged with OVI if you have 15 nanograms of marijuana metabolite in your urine or five nanograms of marijuana metabolite in your blood and are under the influence of alcohol or another drug at the same time. 

How Can Gounaris Abboud, LPA, Help You with Your OVI Marijuana Charges?

OVI marijuana charges are difficult to defend against. That’s why you need legal help from an experienced and dedicated legal team.

At Gounaris Abboud, we have the knowledge and resources to defend your rights. We also understand how much an OVI charge can disrupt your life.

Not only are you facing jail time, you face the social consequences of an OVI charge as well. 

Our lawyers use their extensive experience and develop a defense strategy catered to your best interests. We can challenge the police’s actions at the scene and the scientific evidence to ensure you get the best result possible. 

Contact the award-winning OVI defense lawyers with Gounaris Abboud, LPA, today at 937-222-1515 to learn about your options.

We offer free confidential initial consultations and are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions. 

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