The Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) contains data and driving records of ALL Ohio drivers and is typically what the State will obtain of copy of, and admit at trial, to prove up any prior conviction for OVI. In addition, the State may also check the NCIC database which will search national records.
Ohio Revised Code 4511.181 specifically identifies offenses that count as prior convictions. Those include: and violation of 4511.19(A) or (B), involuntary manslaughter where the basis of the offense was impaired driving and aggravated vehicular homicide, just to name a few. This is not a complete list, but are some of the most common.
The timing of any prior convictions is extremely important. The statutory “look back” period is 6 years from the date of a prior OVI conviction. Or, 20 years if the defendant has currently refused any chemical test. Keep in mind that any prior conviction, used as an enhancement on the current case, is an element of the offense and must be proven by the prosecution.
An experienced Columbus OVI attorney may attack the prior conviction at trial. One of the moist effective ways this can be accomplished is if the prior conviction was uncounseled. Further, the defense may make a motion that the prior uncounseled conviction violated the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Amendments.
Ohio Courts have held that an effective waiver of counsel will not be presumed from a silent record. The prior court’s record must show that the defendant knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived his/ her right to counsel. More specifically, the record must show “ that an accused was offered counsel but intelligently and understandingly rejected that offer.” State v. Wellman, 37 Ohio St. 2d 162, 177 (1974).
Ohio Criminal Rule 44(C) requires that the waiver be made in open court and be recorded. Current defense counsel should subpoena the court records from any uncounseled prior OVI conviction and attack the enhancement based of the aforementioned.
However, in a Mayor’s Court prior conviction, although it is a violation of a municipal OVI ordinance and classifies under the statute as an enhancement, the attack may be easier. Reason being, Mayor’s Courts often fail to produce an adequate record of proceedings. However, just because the proceeding was not recorded, it is not a bright line test that causes the conviction not be used as an enhancement. At least one Ohio Court has held that because the conviction did not result in any jail time served, the fact the proceeding was not recorded was irrelevant.
Juvenile offenses for OVI can also be used as an enhancement on any subsequent OVI charge under Ohio revised Code 2901.08. This means that a conviction for OVUAC under 4511.19(B) will be counted as an enhancement in any subsequent OVI charge.
Finally, any conviction for OVI in another state will be used and counted as an enhancement on Ohio for prosecutorial purposes. This is codified in Ohio Revised Code 4511.181(A).