Medication And OVI / DUI In Ohio

Medication Use Can Lead To DUI / OVI In Ohio

Drivers in Ohio take medications for a variety of medical conditions, from pain relief to mental health stability.  Some medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can affect driving ability.  Even if a drug is prescribed by a doctor or does not require a prescription, operating a vehicle under the influence of that drug may result in a charge of DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio).

Ohio Revised Code section 4511.19(A) makes it illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of a drug of abuse.  A ‘drug of abuse’ is any controlled substance, dangerous drug, or prescription medication.  The definition also includes over-the-counter medications that, when taken in quantities exceeding the recommended dosage, can result in impairment of judgment or reflexes.  Therefore, drivers in Ohio can be charged with OVI / DUI for operating a vehicle under the influence of medication.

How Medication DUI / OVI Is Investigated

When a law enforcement officer stops a driver, their interaction may lead the officer to suspect the driver is under the influence.  The officer then typically has the driver perform field sobriety tests.  If the officer believes the driver is under the influence, but there is no evidence of alcohol consumption, the officer will likely suspect the cause of the intoxication is drugs.

The officer may ask the driver if he or she takes medication, or the officer may find the medication when searching the driver or the vehicle.  When the officer finds out the driver takes medication, the officer may administer a Drug Recognition Evaluation and request a blood or urine sample for testing.  The officer then charges the driver with OVI.

How Medication DUI / OVI Is Prosecuted

After the driver is charged with OVI, the prosecuting attorney presents evidence to prove the driver’s guilt.  For an OVI involving medication, guilt may be proven in two basic ways.  First, the evidence may prove the driver was ‘under the influence’:  the drug impaired the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle.  Second, the evidence may prove the driver was ‘over the limit’ if the drug is one of those which has a prohibited level.  However, not many prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications (or their components) have a prohibited level.  That means the prosecutor introduces evidence to prove the driver was under the influence at the time of operating the vehicle.

To prove a driver is under the influence, the prosecution must prove the medication affected the driver in such a way that the person’s ability to operate the vehicle would be impaired.  The prosecutor will introduce testimony from the officer(s) and witness(es), as well as video footage from cruiser dash cams and body cameras.  If the driver provided a blood or urine sample, the prosecutor will likely introduce the results of the blood test or urine test.  

Challenging DUI / OVI Cases Involving Medication

Medication DUI/OVI cases are more difficult for the prosecution to prove than cases involving alcohol or illegal drugs.  Unlike the effects of alcohol, the effects of medications are not considered to be a matter of common sense.  For the prosecution to prove a driver was under the influence of a medication, the prosecution will usually need the testimony of an expert witness to explain the impact of the medication on driving ability.  If there is a blood or urine test, an expert witness is typically necessary to explain the level of the drug in the blood or urine and how that relates to being under the influence.  If you are charged with DUI / OVI based on ingesting medication, you should consider challenging the case and hiring a skilled DUI / OVI lawyer.

Lawyers With Expertise In Medication DUI / OVI

The attorneys at the Dominy Law Firm in Columbus, Ohio are skilled DUI / OVI lawyers.  They understand the nuances of the investigation and prosecution of DUI / OVI cases involving medication.  If you would like to speak with our lawyers about your case, and if your case is in central Ohio, you can arrange a free phone consultation by submitting a CONTACT FORM or by calling 614-717-1177.

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