Prescription Drugs and DUI/OVI


What Drugs Are Illegal to Have in My Car? Can I drive while taking prescription drugs?

Law enforcement can pull you over if they think you may be under the influence of any type of drugs. Protect your rights by knowing the facts about what qualifies as an OVI offense under Ohio Law.

Most everyone is aware that according to Ohio State Law it is illegal to operate a vehicle while impaired by alcohol (BAC of .08 or higher). However, another common OVI (Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence, ORC 4511.19) charge is that of other drugs, including those prescribed to you by a doctor. Yes, that’s right, if they suspect you of taking certain prescription medication prior to driving, police officers can charge you with a DUI or OVI.

What Reasons Do Police Have to Suspect Drugs?

Should a police officer observe a traffic violation or erratic driving behaviors, they will pull the vehicle over and begin to collect information to ascertain whether or not the driver might be impaired. They will begin by asking if you have been drinking alcohol or taking any drugs or medication recently. They will also check your license to see if there are any outstanding warrants or previous violations. While you should cooperate with law enforcement by supplying your name, license and registration, you should not violate your own rights by answering questions without a qualified central-Ohio defense attorney present.

After asking these questions, should the officer suspect you are under the influence of illegal or prescribed drugs that impair one’s ability to operate a vehicle, they will administer a Field Sobriety Test (FST). The FST will help them determine if you should be arrested. The procedures used for FST can vary and can be difficult for some individuals to perform regardless of intoxication. Standard FST includes assessing the suspects balance, physical ability, attention level or other factors that the officer may use to determine whether the suspect is driving under the influence. While you do not have to voluntarily perform the FST, failure to do so will result in a suspension of your driver’s license. If arrested, you will be asked to perform a chemical test, such as a blood, plasma, or urine test. If you have been asked to perform a chemical test, it is imperative you contact a qualified central-Ohio defense attorney as soon as possible.

What Drugs Are Illegal?

If law enforcement discovers evidence for the use of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, other controlled substances, or any of the following prescription and non-prescription drugs while driving, the driver can be charged with a drug-related OVI/DUI.

  • Pain medications – oxycodone, hydrocodone, Percocet, and OxyContin
  • Sleeping pills, such as Ambien or Lunesta
  • Antihistamines that cause drowsiness
  • Anti-anxiety medication which causes fatigue, such as Valium or Xanax
  • Anti-addiction medication such as Methadone or Suboxone
  • Over the Counter (OTC) medications, such as cough and cold medication that cause drowsiness or impairment

While this is not an exhaustive list, the drugs listed have been cited in many DUI/OVI cases across the country and in central Ohio.

How Do I Protect Myself from Criminal Charges?

If you were wrongfully charged with an OVI or DUI, you can take steps to protect your freedom and your future with a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney.

A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will be able to assess the details of your situation and determine if charges can be dismissed or reduced. They will determine if law enforcement followed the correct procedures during your arrest or if the FST were administered legally by a certified officer. FST and biological tests can be mishandled, and an attentive attorney can uncover any mistakes made in the process.

Seeking the help of a DUI/OVI attorney will give you peace of mind knowing you are not fighting criminal charges alone. A trusted Ohio defense attorney can help mitigate damages to your job, family, future, and reputation.

Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight for your rights today.


Ohio Revised Code 4511.19

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