Do you know anyone on prescription medications who needs to drive? A spouse, a child, a parent? If so, you might be surprised to find out that the very medicines they take so faithfully can also result in an arrest for operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI/DUI) in Ohio. Many people associate OVI charges only with alcohol, but operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs can also land you in jail.
Amphetamine, cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, methamphetamine, and phencyclidine are each specifically enumerated in Ohio’s DUI/OVI statute as illegal controlled substances prohibited to drivers. While illegal drugs are clearly prohibited, what about those which were legitimately purchased and used in accordance with your loved one’s prescriptions?
Driving under the influence of a prescription drug
The Legislature provides prescription drug users with an affirmative defense to a driving while drugged charge. If your family member was using a drug for which he or she has a valid prescription written by a licensed health professional, and was driving under the influence of only that drug, taken in accordance with the health professional's directions, no crime has been committed. If the driver doesn’t have a valid prescription or did not strictly abide by the directions given for taking the drug or drugs, they could face serious charges.
If you have been charged with OVI and don’t have a valid prescription, all hope for a defense is not lost. In many of Ohio’s driving while drugged cases, the prosecution's proof rests on a urine test taken by the arresting officer. The prosecution must establish that the police and the laboratory accurately followed rather complex procedures required by Ohio’s Administrative Code, as well as establish a chain of custody from collection of the sample to its testing. An experienced Ohio DUI/OVI lawyer knows how to:
cast doubt on the chain of custody of the urine sample
challenge the qualifications of the laboratory personnel who conducted the test
question the calibration of the machines used to test the sample
show the margins of error in the state’s testing of urine samples
demand that the sample be retested by a defense lab,
challenge whether or not the sample was properly collected, refrigerated and sealed
Keep in mind that an OVI charge, like any other criminal charge, must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution before you can be convicted.