Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Results of Urine Test Should Be Suppressed for OVI Conviction

The Fourth District Court of Appeals has ruled that a woman’s urine test should have been suppressed during her OVI trial due to an Ohio state trooper’s failure to follow protocol.

Laura Mullins appealed her OVI conviction because her urine sample was “unrefrigerated for almost 12 hours when it was not in transit or under examination.” Mullins said it was out of compliance with the methods approved by the director of health. Ohio Adm.Code 3701-53-05(F) states that all blood and urine samples must be refrigerated if not in transit or under examination.

In a 2-1 decision, Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge William H. Harsha III noted in the court’s opinion that different appeals courts across Ohio have determined different timeframes for what is considered out of compliance.

“We decline to create a bright line rule that the state substantially complies with Ohio Adm.Code 3701-53-05(F) if a urine sample is unrefrigerated between the time it is collected and placed into transit so long as the trooper who collects (or takes possession of) the sample mails it to a laboratory during or immediately after his shift, regardless of how long that is,” Judge Harsha wrote.

The Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled, however, that the 12-hour time period was too long and out of compliance and therefore Mullins’ urine sample should have been suppressed. The court also ruled that this procedural deviation was neither “de minimis” or “minor” under the substantial-compliance standard.

“This period of time is more than double the amount of time the Plummer Court (a 1986 Ohio Supreme Court case, State v. Plummer) characterized as a ‘relatively slight delay.’ It is also double or more than double time periods approved by other Ohio courts.”

Judge Marie C. Moraleja Hoover concurred in judgment and opinion. Judge Matthew W. McFarland dissented with no opinion on the June 25 ruling that reversed the judgment of the trial court and remanded the case for further proceedings.

State v. Mullins, 2013-Ohio-2688
Criminal Appeal From: Chillicothe Municipal Court
Judgment Appealed From Is: Reversed and Remanded
Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: June 25, 2013

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