In a news conference unveiling 150 new road signs with a phone number on them that drivers can call to report suspected drug activity, Ohio Gov. John Kasich revealed that authorities had seized almost 6 million grams of illegal drugs in 2011, valued at over $69.5 million. He was attempting to draw attention to drug trafficking, which authorities believe is a significant problem in the state. In what officials have announced as a further effort to crack down on drug possession and trafficking in Ohio, state lawmakers have proposed a bill that would impose criminal penalties for owning a vehicle with a hidden compartment.
Details of the Proposed Law
The proposed bill would make “designing, building, constructing, fabricating, modifying, or altering a vehicle to create or add a hidden compartment” illegal, if the person doing so knew or had reason to believe that someone was going to use the vehicle for a criminal purpose.
Additionally, the bill would also make “operating, possessing, or using” a vehicle with a hidden compartment illegal, if the person doing so knew or had reason to believe the vehicle was being used to help commit a crime.
One of the ways the proposed law defines hidden compartment is “any compartment, space, box, or other closed container that is added or attached to existing compartments, spaces, boxes, or closed containers integrated or attached to a vehicle.” The proposed law also forbids false or modified fuel tanks and any original equipment from the vehicle manufacture that a person has “modified to conceal, hide, or prevent the discovery of the modified equipment's contents.”
The bill is currently awaiting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Penalties for Violations
Violation of the proposed law would be a fourth degree felony. The penalties for conviction under the law include:
- A jail sentence up to 18 months
- A fine of up to $5,000
Consult an Attorney
The new highway signs helping people report suspected drug activity and the proposed law criminalizing secret compartments in vehicles shows how much Ohio authorities are cracking down on drug offenders. If you are facing drug charges, talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can help protect your rights.