Andre Sanford was in a crash in October 2016. He struck a motorcycle, killing the driver and left the scene. An hour later he surrendered, admitted that he had been drinking and smoking weed, and submitted to a blood test. Sometime later the test results indicated a prohibited amount of marijuana metabolites in his system. In December 2016 he was indicted on many charges including aggravated vehicular homicide as a result of OVI (impaired or per se). Sanford was arraigned on January 9, 2017 and released on bond that day after spending 95 days in jail.
Sanford sought to dismiss the charges on the basis of a speedy trial violation. Under R.C. 2945.71, a person facing a felony generally must be brought to trial on a felony with 270 days of arrest and is entitled to three days of credit for every day of incarceration.
To spare confusion, the focus of this post is on the aggravated vehicular homicide charge predicated on the per se violation. The state argued that the original speedy trial clock does not apply when additional charges “arise from facts different from the original charges,” or the state did not know “of the facts at the time of the original charges.” The trial court declined to dismiss the OVI and vehicular homicide charges but dismissed the rest. Sanford pleaded no contest and appealed. The Ninth District ruled that the state had all of the information it needed at the time of the arrest to charge OVI (impaired) and vehicular homicide predicated on reckless operation. It affirmed the OVI (per se) conviction and the vehicular homicide conviction predicated on OVI (per se).
The Supreme Court of Ohio stated that when the state does not have all the information necessary to charge a crime at the time of arrest a new speedy trial time period begins when that crime is later charged. As noted by the Court in making a fact dependent determination “A driver might admit to consuming marijuana, but he cannot admit to the amount of marijuana metabolites that are in his bloodstream.” Further, while a police officer might suspect a person is over the limit, it is the toxicology results that constitute new information unknown to the state at the time of the original charge. Thus, as to the OVI (per se) and vehicular homicide predicated on the OVI (per se) charges, Sanford’s speedy trial rights were not violated after 90 days in jail.