DUI and Prescription Drugsbedewy
The charge of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) is referred to as operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) in Ohio and is commonly associated with alcohol. However, a motorist may be arrested for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID). And while people can understandably assume that these charges apply to illegal drugs, these criminal charges can also apply to use of prescription drugs.
Many legally prescribed drugs can have side effects that police will claim impaired a motorist’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Some of the side effects include:
- Blurred vision
- Breathing issues
- Delayed reaction time
- Overactive reflexes
- Sleep problems
There are several different types of prescription drugs that may be involved in DUI charges. These can include multiple legal opiates, painkillers, sedatives, sleeping pills, and stimulants. Some of the drugs that are most commonly involved in these types of OVI arrests include, but are not limited to:
- Alprazolam (Xanax®)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin®)
- Diazepam (Valium®)
- Lorazepam (Ativan®)
- Lorcet or Lortab® (hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen)
- Lunesta® (Eszopiclone)
- Meperidine (Demerol®)
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin®)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®)
- Tussionex (chlorpheniramine and hydrocodone)
- Zolpidem (Ambien)
The major difference between a DUI charge relating to alcohol and an arrest that stems from prescription drugs is that a prosecutor has a much higher burden of proof in demonstrating to a judge or jury that a legally prescribed drug impaired an alleged offender’s ability to drive. Whereas OVI cases can be often be proven by a driver having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, it is much more difficult to establish what amount of prescription drugs clearly warrants a conviction for drugged driving.
The penalties, however, remain just as serious for a conviction of driving under the influence of prescription drugs as they are for drunk driving. The consequences depend on whether a person has previous offenses:
- First OVI in six years – Up to six months in jail, up to $1,075 in fines, license suspension of up to three years
- Second OVI in six years – Up to six months in jail, up to $1,625 in fines, license suspension of up to five years, mandatory yellow restricted license plates, immobilization of offender’s vehicle for 90 days
- Third OVI in six years – Up to one year in jail, up to $2,750 in fines, license suspension of up to 10 years, mandatory yellow restricted license plates, forfeiture of offender’s vehicle
- Fourth or Fifth OVI in six years or Sixth OVI in 20 years – Up to 32 months in prison, up to $10,500 in fines, possible lifetime license suspension, mandatory yellow restricted license plates, forfeiture of offender’s vehicle
- Second Felony OVI – Up to five years in prison, up to $10,500 in fines, possible lifetime license suspension, mandatory yellow restricted license plates, forfeiture of offender’s vehicle
Any charges of operating a vehicle under the influence can be very overwhelming, but a person arrested for this offense because of prescription drug use may have more defenses available than a person whose charges are alcohol-related. A capable criminal defense attorney can demonstrate that an alleged offender used a legal drug as it was prescribed and possibly have charges dismissed.
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