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According to Ohio law, it is illegal to drive or operate a vehicle while under the influence (DUI / OVI). This is often understood to mean driving under the influence of alcohol, but it includes driving under the influence of prescription drugs as well as other drugs. Ohio treats prescription drugs in largely the same manner as recreational drugs and other substances. There are a number of defenses that you can assert against an DUI / OVI charge involving prescription drugs, and it is important to understand the full scope of your legal rights when interacting with the authorities, making statements, and whether to accept a plea deal. Our dedicated team of Cleveland DUI lawyers has aided individuals throughout Akron and other parts of Cuyahoga County in matters involving prescription drugs and drunk driving charges. We have seen firsthand how stressful these matters can be, especially if you are facing the suspension of your license.Drugged Driving Laws in Ohio
According to Ohio statutes, it is unlawful to operate a vehicle if you are under the influence of an alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination thereof. The law lists certain maximum concentrations of the drug that will trigger criminal penalties if a driver tests at that level while behind the wheel. If you test at or above these limits, you are deemed to be driving per se under the influence.
When it comes to driving under the influence of prescription drugs, however, there are no concentrations, and tests are conducted through urine or blood samples to determine whether the substance is in the driver’s system. This includes a broad range of prescription drugs including opiates like Vicodin, cold and cough medicine like hydrocodone, sedatives like alprazolam, and prescription stimulants like Adderall. A driver operating under the influence of prescription drugs is charged in the same manner as a driver whose blood alcohol content is in excess of 0.08%. The law gives law enforcement officers the authority to test for prescription drugs if they have a reasonable suspicion that your behavior suggests that you are on prescription drugs, or if there is evidence of prescription drugs during a routine stop such as a prescription pill bottle or evidence of pills. The prosecutor will have to show that you were taking a lawfully prescribed medication in a manner that impaired your ability to drive.Penalties and Defenses for Prescription Drug Driving Offenses
A conviction for driving under the influence of prescription drugs carries hefty penalties. There are statutory penalties assigned for mandatory minimum jail time, which is three days for the first offense, the suspension of your driver’s license, mandatory drug tests, and attendance at a drug abuse treatment program.
Just like other driving related crimes, there are a number of defenses that may be available to you if you’ve been charged with driving under the influence of prescription drugs. First, the statute makes it clear that if you have a valid prescription from a licensed healthcare professional and you were taking the medication according to the dosage, you cannot be convicted of drugged driving. This can be complicated if the medication indicates that you should refrain from driving while on the medication or that it may cause side effects like drowsiness. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer can help assess your claim to see whether this defense can help exonerate you or at least mitigate your charges. Verifying that the machinery used to take your sample was calibrated appropriately and that the police followed appropriate procedures can be possible avenues for defense as well.Contact a Drugged Driving DUI / OVI Lawyer in Cleveland Today
Prescription drug-related driving arrests in Cleveland can be complicated, especially if you were in possession of the pills legally and with a doctor’s consent. Many individuals believe that going through the legal system without the guidance and counsel of an attorney will streamline the process, but this generally isn’t true. The Ohio criminal justice system is complex, and having an experienced attorney by your side to help you identify strengths and weaknesses in the case can help you protect your rights and your future if you’ve been charged with DUI / OVI. We offer a free consultation and proudly serve clients throughout Parma, Berea, Rocky River, Bedford, Garfield Heights, Stow, and Barberton. To set up your free consultation call us at 216-520-5297 or contact us online.