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Can You Get a DUI/DWI/OVI for Prescription Drugs?

Douglas A. Ball Attorney at Law Aug. 29, 2022

closeup woman hand holding medicine bottle taking overdose pillsEveryone is aware of the danger of driving under the influence of alcohol. However, some prescription drugs can impair your ability to drive safely, just like alcohol. In Ohio, you could certainly face criminal charges for operating a vehicle under the influence of prescription drugs. The penalties for operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) by prescription drugs are severe in Ohio, as law enforcement in the state takes DUI/DWI cases involving prescription drugs very seriously. 

Reach out to a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney if you or someone you care about is facing criminal charges for getting behind the wheel after taking prescription medication. Attorney Douglas A. Ball is a criminal defense attorney who handles DWI/DUI/OVI cases in Batavia and throughout the state of Ohio, including Hamilton, Clermont, Brown, and Warren counties.  

DUID for Prescription Drugs 

Many people mistakenly believe they cannot get a DWI/DUI/OVI if they get behind the wheel after taking prescription drugs. In reality, driving under the influence of prescription drugs, which is commonly referred to as DUID, is a serious criminal charge in Ohio.  

Like alcohol and illegal drugs, prescription medications can affect a driver’s judgment, coordination, and reaction time, all of which are responsible for the ability to drive safely. That is why Ohio law makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medications. In Ohio, you can face charges for driving under the influence of prescription drugs for: 

  1. “Per se” DUID. Under the “per se” laws, it is unlawful to operate a vehicle with alcohol or drug concentration at or above the legal limit.  

  1. Impairment. Even if the concentration of alcohol or drugs in your blood does not exceed the legal limit, you could still face criminal charges if you exhibit signs of impairment.  

When a police officer suspects that you are impaired by alcohol or drugs, the officer may ask you to take field sobriety tests. While your inability to pass a field sobriety test could be used as evidence of your impairment, those tests are not 100% accurate. A skilled criminal defense attorney could help you challenge the results of field sobriety tests to dismiss DWI/DUI/OVI charges against you.  

Consequences of Driving on Prescription Drugs 

While it may seem that driving on prescription drugs is punished less harshly than driving while impaired by alcohol or illegal drugs, the consequences of OVI by prescription drugs can be harsh. A conviction for operating a vehicle under the influence of prescription drugs carries hefty penalties, including jail time, suspension of the driver’s license, mandatory drug tests, and drug abuse treatment programs.  

However, keep in mind that whether or not you can face criminal charges and penalties for driving a vehicle after taking prescription drugs depends on the medication and the dosage. Under Ohio law, you cannot face criminal charges for taking the correct dosage of certain medications that were legally prescribed by a doctor.  

If you are facing charges for driving under the influence of prescription drugs, consult with an experienced attorney to help you understand your legal rights and defense options. 

Drugs That Can Get You a DUID 

Not all prescription drugs affect your ability to drive safely equally. Some prescription drugs may cause drowsiness, blurred vision, and/or decreased coordination, while others may have no adverse effect on your physical or mental faculties. While this means that not all drugs can increase the risk of an accident and get you a DUID, it is still important to consult with your doctor about the potential side effects of the prescribed medication before you get behind the wheel. 

Some of the prescription drugs that may get you a drugged driving charge include but are not limited to: 

  • Painkillers, including Codeine, Vicodin, Oxycodone, Morphine, Fentanyl, and others;  

  • Cough syrups containing hydrocodone or codeine; 

  • Amphetamines and stimulants; 

  • Sedatives, including Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and others.  

The standards for determining whether a driver is impaired by prescription drugs are not as clear as for driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. Ohio law sets quantifiable legal limits for the consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs while operating a motor vehicle. If you are at or above those limits, you can face drunk/drugged driving charges. However, there are no such legal limits for prescription drugs, which is why most DUI/OVI charges related to impairment by prescription drugs are based on the officer’s subjective observations. This factor alone makes it easier to fight against criminal charges to avoid a conviction, especially when you retain a knowledgeable defense lawyer to represent your best interests.  

How Attorney Douglas A. Ball Can Help  

If you are facing DWI/DUI/OVI charges for driving under the influence of prescription drugs, you should not underestimate the severity of these charges. Seek out the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney to fight for your rights. From his office in Batavia, Ohio, Attorney Douglas A. Ball assists clients in seeking to get their charges dismissed or pursuing a minimum sentence. Schedule a case evaluation today.