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Are Speedy Trial Rights Violated When the State Files Per Se OVI Charges Upon Receipt of Urine Test Results?

One recent Ohio Court of Appeals (State v. Wieland, 2016-Ohio-261) asked this question:

Are the speedy trial rights of a defendant violated if the state files per se OVI charges (under R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(e)) months after receiving the results of the defendant’s urine test?

Unfortunately, the court found that the answer is no.  Speedy trial rights are not violated in these cases.

Defendant Takes Urine Test; Results Come Back a Few Weeks Later

In this case, the defendant was charged with a red light violation and OVI under R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a).

On the night of her arrest, the officer twice attempted to conduct to a breath test. Due to interference, the breath test results could not be obtained.  Thus, he had her take a urine test and sent it out for analysis.

The results of the urine test were reported to the state on November 24, 2014.  On March 5, 2015, she was was charged with an additional “per se” OVI in violation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(e), based upon the lab results.

She filed a motion to dismiss the charge on speedy trial grounds.

On appeal, she argued that her motion to dismiss should have been granted because her right to a speedy trial was violated when the charge of per se OVI was added on March 5, 2015.

What is a Speedy Trial?

A criminal defendant has a fundamental right to a speedy trial as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution. State v. Ramey, 132 Ohio St.3d 309, 2012-Ohio-2904, ¶ 14.

In Ohio, a person charged with a first degree misdemeanor must be brought to trial within 90 days after her arrest.

Further, “subsequent charges made against an accused would be subject to the same speedy-trial constraints as the original charges, if the additional charges arose from the same facts as the first indictment.” State v. Baker, 78 Ohio St.3d 108, 110, 1997-Ohio-229.

If, however, the subsequent charges arise from new and additional facts, unknown at the time of the original arrest, the state is not bound to the speedy trial timetable of the original arrest and may be afforded a new speedy trial period.

Speedy Trial Began to Run When State Filed Per Se OVI Charges

The defendant argues that the charges filed on March 5, 2015 were based upon facts known at the time the original charges were filed, and thus the speedy trial clock began to run on November 5, 2014.  If the speedy trial clock began at that point, then 90 days would have passed before the charge on March 5, 2015.  She should then be entitled to a dismissal of that offense.

However, the court disagreed.  The court found that the speedy trial clock did not begin until March 5, 2015.  According to the court, the charge filed on that date was based on new facts that were not available at the time of the original charges.

While the original charges were filed on November 5, 2014, the state did not obtain the urine results (the facts necessary to file the per se OVI charge) until November 24, 2014.

The court also had held that lab reports confirming the blood alcohol level (BAC) of an offender constitute new facts not available to the state at the time of the original arrest regardless of an officer’s belief as to an offender’s intoxication.

Thus, the speedy trial clock on the charge of per se OVI pursuant to R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(e) did not begin to run until March 5, 2015.  Accordingly, the court said, her right to a speedy trial was not violated.