The Fourth District holds that admission of a defendant's refusal to take a chemical test at trial does not violate a defendant's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, imposing an administrative license suspension and criminal penalties does not violate Double Jeopardy protections, and disagrees with the 11th District by concluding that courts need not accept defendants' offers to stipulate to prior OVI convictions.
December 16, 2015
Leasure was found in the driver's seat of a vehicle stuck in a ditch. The police officer placed Leasure under arrest for an OVI and ultimately cited him for an OVI with a prior conviction and refusal in violation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(2), failure to control in violation of R.C. 4511.202, and failure to wear a driver's seat belt in violation of R.C. 4513.263(B)(1). Leasure was ultimately found guilty of the OVI charge and failure to control.
When appealing his conviction, Leasure argued that a refusal to comply with a chemical test violates the Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination. The Fourth District observed that the United States Supreme Court has held that the admission of a defendant's refusal to take a chemical test at trial does not violate a defendant's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The Fourth District followed reasoning of the Eighth District in City of Middleburg Hts v. Henniger, 2006 Ohio 3715 (8th Dist.), concluding that use of a refusal to enhance the minimum term of imprisonment is Constitutional. It also adopted the often cited theory that "[i]n Ohio, a license to operate a motor vehicle is a privilege, and not an absolute property right." Doyle v. Ohio Bur. of Motor Vehicles, 51 Ohio St.3d 46, 554 N.E.2d 97 (1990)
Likewise, the Fourth District rejected Leasure's argument that Double Jeopardy protections were violated when he was subjected to both an administrative license suspension and criminal conviction due to his refusal. The Fourth District relied on State v. Hoover, 123 Ohio St. 3d 418, 2009 Ohio 4993 (2009) to reason that, "'the refusal to consent to testing is not, itself, a criminal offense,'" but "[r]ather, under R.C. 4511.19(A)(2), refusal to consent to testing "is simply an additional element" that must be proven.
Leasure also argued that the trial court erred in allowing evidence of his prior OVI conviction after an offer to stipulate to it. He argued that the prior conviction was prejudicial to his current case. The Fourth District concluded that the prior OVI conviction was an essential element of the case and cited a Ninth District decision in State v. McDaniel, 2005 Ohio 5809 (9th District) for the proposition that, "Defendants do not have a right to a stipulation, nor does the State have a duty to accept a stipulation." Interestingly, the 11th District came to a different conclusion a month prior in State v. Baird, 2015 Ohio 4539 (11th Dist.)