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Can You Get a DUI/OVI for Driving on Prescription Drugs?

Updated: April 18, 2024
Nicholas G. Gounaris
By Nicholas G. Gounaris

Nicholas G. Gounaris is a skilled trial lawyer and founding partner of Gounaris Abboud law firm. He provides clients of the firm with competent legal representation and focuses his law practice in the areas of DUI Defense, Criminal Defense, Family Law Issues, Federal Criminal Law and Personal Injury cases.

DUI OVI for driving on prescription drugs

People often ask us, How can you get a DUI/OVI for prescription drugs?

The next question you might ask is, How can I have a DUI/OVI for prescription drugs if I took them according to my doctor’s orders?

The answer is simple. In Ohio, you can get a DUI / OVI for prescription drugs if you drive while under the influence and despite taking your medication as prescribed.

At Gounaris Abboud, LPA, we understand your frustration with Ohio’s OVI law.

Our experienced DUI prescription drugs defense lawyers have fought for our clients successfully in hundreds of OVI cases.

Contact our firm today to learn more about how we can help you.

What Is the Ohio Prescription Drug OVI Law?

Driving under the influence (DUI) and operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI) mean the same thing under Section 4511.19 of the Ohio Revised Code.

In the pertinent part, Section 4511.19 says that no person shall operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both.

In Ohio, there are two ways a person could be convicted of OVI. The first is driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both.

The second is driving with an illegal amount of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two in your system. This is called the “per se” law. However, most people call it, “the legal limit.”

Driving Under the Influence

Under the first theory of OVI, the police must rely on their observations to determine if someone is driving under the influence.

For instance, an officer will note:

  • How the person is driving;
  • Whether the person is alert and awake or drowsy;
  • The presence or absence of the smell of alcohol;
  • If the driver could locate documents easily like a driver’s license or proof of insurance;
  • Whether the driver caused a crash;
  • Witness statements;
  • The driver’s ability to follow directions;
  • The driver’s admission to drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or both; and
  • The driver’s performance on field sobriety tests.

All these factors play a role in determining whether a driver is under the influence.

How Can the Police Tell If Someone is Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs?

Ohio’s implied consent law mandates that a person who is arrested for OVI has to take a chemical test. The chemical test could be a breathalyzer, whole blood test, plasma blood test, or urinalysis.

Breathalyzer tests help officers figure out if someone is under the influence of alcohol. However, a breathalyzer test might only tell part of the story.

As a result, Ohio law allows testing of a person’s whole blood or blood plasma to see if the person has alcohol, certain illegal drugs, or illegal drug metabolites in their system. (A drug metabolite is a chemical the body produces after taking certain drugs.)

Conversely, there is no DUI blood test for prescription drugs in Ohio.

A urine test might yield evidence of a prescription drug. However, Section 4511.19 makes no reference to a per se limit of prescription drugs, unlike alcohol and other drugs of abuse.

As a result, a judge might not accept urinalysis as “per se” evidence in a prescription drugs OVI prosecution.

The police can use their observations and chemical test results to prove DUI of prescription drugs. For example, suppose police pull over a person for weaving all over the road.

The driver might be sleepy, incoherent, and have trouble with field sobriety tests. The officer might have to determine whether the person is just tired or has consumed something that impairs their ability to drive.

The officer might send the driver for a blood test after an arrest to see if the person has alcohol and drugs in their system.

Test results could show a combination of substances that could prove the driver was under the influence.

How to Fight a DUI Charge for Prescription Drugs

Section 4511.19(k) indicates that a person who takes certain drugs according to the dose prescribed by their doctor cannot face prosecution for OVI drugs.

Experienced and skilled DUI prescription drugs defense attorneys understand how to attack a OVI drugs case to give their clients the best chance to avoid a conviction.

Every case is different. The best defense for you depends on the individual facts of your case. Notwithstanding, our OVI defense lawyers have handled numerous cases successfully by:

  • Arguing the police violated your rights;
  • Contesting expert evidence to show that a jury will be confused by it or the expert is testifying to junk science;
  • Convincing a jury or judge that the prosecution did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt; or
  • Entering plea negotiations with the prosecutor to minimize your legal liability.

Talking with a knowledgeable OVI defense lawyer immediately can help you determine your best course of action.

Call Gounaris Abboud, LPA, Today for More Information About How Can You Get a DUI for Prescription Drugs

Remember that a conviction for OVI requires at least three days in jail, fines, fees, and mandatory license loss. In this difficult situation, experience matters.

You can count on the award-winning and AVVO top-rated OVI defense lawyers from Gounaris Abboud, LPA to give you the best chance of obtaining a favorable result.

Contact us at 937-222-1515 to talk with our Ohio SuperLawyers today.

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