DUI Appeals Reports 12/2/15

In three recent appellate court decisions, the 9th District rejected an ineffective assistance claim because it relied on evidence outside the record, the 11th District affirmed a motion to suppress when a trooper pulled over a car for a license plate light but failed to check it during the traffic stop, and the 10th District rejected a speedy trial appeal due to tolling and addressed attempts to introduce testimony about the statistical probability of BAC levels with field sobriety tests, without providing an expert.

State v. Buzek, 2015 Ohio 4416 (9th Dist.)


October 26, 2015

Buzek pleaded no contest to an R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a) violation; however, after she was sentenced to 180 days in jail with 150 days suspended, 2 years of probation, an $850.00 fine, a 3-year driver's license suspension, and forfeiture of the vehicle involved; she appealed claiming ineffective assistance of counsel.  The 9th District upheld the trial court's judgement, reasoning that Buzek's arguments relied on evidence outside the record, and were therefore inappropriate for consideration on direct appeal.

State v. Wood, 2015 Ohio 4434 (11th Dist.)


The prosecution appealed a decision by the trial court to grant Wood's motion to suppress.  A trooper initiated a traffic stop when he believed Wood's rear license plate was not illuminated.  Wood filed a motion to suppress, which the trial court granted, concluding:

after weighing the testimony of the witnesses and the totality of the circumstances that there was no reasonable basis to initiate a traffic stop of Defendant's vehicle. Further, assuming that there was a reasonable basis for the initial stop there was insufficient reasonable articulable facts to justify extending the stop and requesting Defendant exit the vehicle to perform Standard Field Sobriety Tests.

The 11th District reviewed the following regarding traffic stops:

An officer may constitutionally stop a motorist if the seizure is premised upon either a reasonable suspicion or probable cause that a violation has occurred. Probable cause is defined in terms of those facts and circumstances sufficient to warrant a prudent law enforcement officer in believing that a suspect committed or was committing an offense. It is well settled that an officer's observation of a traffic violation furnishes probable cause to stop a vehicle.

While Wood had testified that she had recently replaced the license plate light, the trooper explained that he did not verify whether it was working after he initiated the stop because he was focused on other issues.  Given the trial court's determination of the credibility issues, the 11th District affirmed the trial court's finding that there was no probable cause for the initial stop.

City of Columbus v. LaMarca, 2015 Ohio 4467 (10th Dist.)


October 27, 2015

A trial court had rescheduled a March trial date to April due to the judge's family health emergency.  Prior to the impaneling of a jury, LaMarca moved to dismiss the charges due, due to a violation of her speedy trial rights, alleging 93 days had elapsed since her arrest, 3 more than permitted.  The Trial Court did not grant LaMarca's motion.  The appellate court observed, "From the date of arrest, this case was pending for 219 days, and during that time, at least 148 days were tolled for discovery and various continuances leaving a maximum of 71 days of delay."

LaMarca also appealed regarding the trial court's decision to limit her presentation of evidence regarding sobriety tests.  The 10th District rejected her argument:

[A]ppellant was not merely trying to discuss the relevance or purpose of the tests generally, as cast on appeal, but rather she specifically sought to introduce testimony regarding the statistical probability of BAC levels associated with performance on the field sobriety tests without providing an expert. As such, in light of Bresson and Allen, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in limiting this testimony.

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