Michael C. Hennenberg

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Ohio Criminal Law Blog

What an OVI stop means for your commercial license

As a professional driver, your license is your livelihood. You spend almost every workday behind the wheel. You need that license to support your family and make your career into everything you worked so hard for it to become. There is no other option. There is no Plan B.

You also know, of course, that driving under the influence is illegal. That's true for all drivers in Ohio. But what does that OVI stop mean for you specifically, as a commercial driver? Here are a few things that you need to know:

  • If a test shows that you have any amount of alcohol in your system, it is mandatory for you to go out of service for the next 24 hours. This is true every time you get stopped. Remember, that means that even a single drink with dinner -- something many people enjoy without thinking twice about it -- could be enough to sideline you for a day. With tight schedules and payments based on miles driven, this can become very, very costly.
  • If your breath test comes in at 0.04%, you lose your license for a year. That's just for your first offense. If it happens again, your career is over. You lose your license for life. Ohio takes this very seriously. Please note that 0.04% is just half of the legal limit of drivers who are not professionals. Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard.
  • The same as the above is true if you have a blood test that comes in at 0.048% or a urine test that comes in at 0.056%. The breath test is the most common way that police test drivers and they can do it at the scene, but it is not the only way. They can order other tests as needed.

For some doctors, access to opioids is too tempting

Doctors and nurses have far greater access to prescription drugs like opioids, than your average citizen. As such, there is a temptation for some to commit drug crimes -- namely, stealing the medications and then distributing them or using them themselves.

For instance, one report looked at the numbers for 2018 and discovered that about 47 million doses of opioids got stolen during the course of the year. There were legally prescribed medications. If you feel like that's a lot, you're correct. In fact, it was a 126% increase from 2017.

Reasons a nurse may lose a license

Getting a nursing license is the start of a hopefully long and productive career. It's a critical part of the process and a nurse cannot practice without one, no matter how well-educated, well-trained or experienced he or she is.

That's why it's such a serious blow when a nurse loses their license. A single mistake can completely end their career or at least temporarily put a stop to it. The ramifications are dire.

Tax avoidance vs. evasion

It is not uncommon to hear advertisements in Cleveland of services aimed at helping people to pay less in tax. At the same time, you also likely have heard multiple stories of others facing hefty fines or even jail time for tax evasion. These seemingly conflicting scenarios can often lead to confusion. You certainly do not want to have to pay more tax if it is not necessary, yet you aldo do not want to run afoul of the law. Many who share your same confusion have come to us here at the offices of Michael C. Hennenberg asking how to know if a certain practice aimed at lowering or avoiding taxes is legal. 

The answer to that question comes from understanding the difference between tax avoidance and evasion. The Internal Revenue Service can certainly be viewed as the authority on this topic, and according to the federal tax code found on their website, tax avoidance is when you plan to reduce your tax liability through legitimate practices. These can include: 

  • Deducting business and investment expenses 
  • Seeking to have the value of property you own lowered (to pay less in property tax)
  • Forming a Subchapter S corporation to reduce income subject to Medicare and Social Security Taxes

You must understand how you could violate your probation

After a criminal case, you wind up on probation. This means you get to live at home and, to the outside, it appears that life moves on as normal for you. As a white-collar executive, you know how important your reputation is. You're glad that you can essentially live a normal life and put whatever happened behind you.

One key thing you need to keep in mind is that you can still make the situation worse. If you violate the terms of your probation, it's a criminal offense. You can do this intentionally or accidentally. You must understand the terms so that you don't make another mistake that puts you in a far worse position.

Difference between addiction and dependence

Knowledge about substance abuse in Ohio may prove useful in combatting it, but the terminology that often applies can be confusing. For example, when it comes to drug use, people often use the terms "addiction" and "dependence" interchangeably. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that they are not necessarily the same

Dependence refers to the physical effects that prolonged use of a drug has on a person's body, both while taking the drug and after ceasing its use. The two main components of dependence are tolerance and withdrawal. Tolerance occurs while a person is taking the drug. Over time, the body adapts to the substance. Once this happens, in order to achieve the same effects, the individual needs to take a higher dosage of the drug. Withdrawal occurs when an individual abruptly ceases to use the drug and experiences specific mental and/or physical symptoms as a result. 

What is racketeering?

You may have encountered the word "racketeering" when reading or watching the news in Ohio but not fully understood what it meant. Your confusion is understandable; "racketeering" is a broad umbrella term used to describe a wide range of criminal schemes. CNN cites a law professor who describes racketeering as more of a prosecution strategy of thinking about crime in a particular way than a specific offense. Thus, two types of illegal activity that may seem to have little, if any, similarities with one another on the surface (e.g. organized crime and college admission scandals) could each incur racketeering charges. 

The broad scope of racketeering charges is by design. The purpose of the 1970 Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act was to combat organized crime. As a result, there are 35 offenses altogether, including arson, bribery, extortion, kidnapping and murder, that the RICO Act describes as racketeering.

Should medical errors be grounds for prosecution?

There is no doubt among health care professionals in Ohio that medical errors are extremely serious. NPR cites an estimate that they may be the third leading cause of death in the United States. However, if you are a provider who makes a mistake that results in harm to a patient, you generally will not face criminal charges on account of it. On the rare occasions when providers do face charges, there is usually an indication that the provider was intoxicated or demonstrated malicious intent. 

Professionals in the medical field, including a director of the American Nurses Association, believe that it is best to address medical errors in a way that is not punitive. Otherwise, a provider may be less likely to report the error out of fear of retribution. Nevertheless, a recent high-profile case in which a district attorney filed criminal charges against a nurse for mistakenly administering the wrong medication to a patient who died as a result could set a new precedent. 

Willful vs. non-willful tax avoidance

If you are like most people in Ohio, you can find it hard to look at your paycheck and see how much money is taken out for taxes. Regardless of your political leaning or your financial situation, this can be hard. The tax laws in the United States allow for legal ways that taxpayers can lower their tax burden. Taking advantage of deductions or special types of investments are some examples of this.

However, as explained by Forbes, you should proceed with caution when determining what things you pursue and why when it comes to taxes. Despite allowing people to get breaks on what they owe in taxes, the government has some limits here and can clamp down on what it would call illegal efforts to avoid paying any or one's fair share of taxes. This can lead to allegations of tax evasion which can include both civil and criminal penalties.

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5910 Landerbrook Drive, Suite 200
Mayfield Heights
Cleveland, OH 44124

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