2923.241 Hidden compartments in vehicles.

(A) As used in this section:

(1) "Controlled substance" has the same meaning as in section 3719.01 of the Revised Code.

(2) "Hidden compartment" means a container, space, or enclosure that conceals, hides, or otherwise prevents the discovery of the contents of the container, space, or enclosure. "Hidden compartment" includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:

(a) False, altered, or modified fuel tanks;

(b) Any original factory equipment on a vehicle that has been modified to conceal, hide, or prevent the discovery of the modified equipment's contents;

(c) 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.

(3) "Vehicle" has the same meaning as in section 4511.01 of the Revised Code and includes, but is not limited to, a motor vehicle, commercial tractor, trailer, noncommercial trailer, semitrailer, mobile home, recreational vehicle, or motor home.

(4) "Motor vehicle," "commercial trailer," "trailer," "noncommercial trailer," "semitrailer," "mobile home," "manufacturer," "recreational vehicle," and "motor home" have the same meanings as in section 4501.01 of the Revised Code.

(5) "Motor vehicle dealer" has the same meaning as in section 4517.01 of the Revised Code.

(B) No person shall knowingly design, build, construct, or fabricate a vehicle with a hidden compartment, or modify or alter any portion of a vehicle in order to create or add a hidden compartment, with the intent to facilitate the unlawful concealment or transportation of a controlled substance.

(C) No person shall knowingly operate, possess, or use a vehicle with a hidden compartment with knowledge that the hidden compartment is used or intended to be used to facilitate the unlawful concealment or transportation of a controlled substance.

(D) No person who has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of aggravated trafficking in drugs under section 2925.03 of the Revised Code that is a felony of the first or second degree shall operate, possess, or use a vehicle with a hidden compartment.

(E) Whoever violates division (B) of this section is guilty of designing a vehicle with a hidden compartment used to transport a controlled substance. Except as otherwise provided in this division, designing a vehicle with a hidden compartment used to transport a controlled substance is a felony of the fourth degree. If the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of division (B) of this section, designing a vehicle with a hidden compartment used to transport a controlled substance is a felony of the third degree.

(F) Whoever violates division (C) or (D) of this section is guilty of operating a vehicle with a hidden compartment used to transport a controlled substance. Except as otherwise provided in this division, operating a vehicle with a hidden compartment used to transport a controlled substance is a felony of the fourth degree. Except as otherwise provided in this division, if the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of division (C) or (D) of this section, operating a vehicle with a hidden compartment used to transport a controlled substance is a felony of the third degree. If the hidden compartment contains a controlled substance at the time of the offense, operating a vehicle with a hidden compartment used to transport a controlled substance is a felony of the second degree.

(G) This section does not apply to any law enforcement officer acting in the performance of the law enforcement officer's duties.

(H)

(1) This section does not apply to any licensed motor vehicle dealer or motor vehicle manufacturer that in the ordinary course of business repairs, purchases, receives in trade, leases, or sells a motor vehicle.

(2) This section does not impose a duty on a licensed motor vehicle dealer to know, discover, report, repair, or disclose the existence of a hidden compartment to any person.

(I) This section does not apply to a box, safe, container, or other item added to a vehicle for the purpose of securing valuables, electronics, or firearms provided that at the time of discovery the box, safe, container, or other item added to the vehicle does not contain a controlled substance or visible residue of a controlled substance.

Added by 129th General AssemblyFile No.136, SB 305, §1, eff. 9/28/2012.