Can I Get A DUI If I’m On Prescription Medication
Understandably, many people believe that because they are taking a legal drug prescribed by a doctor, which is part of their daily routine, this would not impact their ability to drive. However, this is not the case. Although prescribed by a doctor, many legal drugs are strong substances that have the ability to impair a driver’s ability to safely operate their vehicle. As a result, driving while taking some prescription medication could immediately result in a DUI charge.
If any amount of specific prescription drugs, such as medical marijuana and oxycodone, is detected in your body through a drug test, you could be charged with a drug-related DUI, regardless of whether you have a valid prescription. Similarly, if you are impaired while driving due to any prescription drugs, or even over-the-counter medications, you could also face a DUI charge.
A DUI charge as a result of prescription medication can come as a substantial shock. Often, drivers are not even aware that they are breaking the law when they are charged. Cannon & Associates DUI attorneys have extensive experience defending clients in Oklahoma against alcohol and drug-related DUI charges.
If convicted, you face possible jail time, a mandatory license suspension, large fines, and a permanent criminal record. We know the stakes are high, and our attorney’s knowledge, resources, and experience means they are well-equipped for the challenge of fighting your charges and securing the best outcome possible.
Do not think that just because the substance you were taking is legal, you will not face conviction. Secure Cannon & Associates skilled legal counsel to give yourself the best chance of avoiding a conviction. Contact our legal team today at 405-591-3935 to schedule your free consultation and discuss a defense strategy.
Oklahoma DUI Law
Oklahoma law prohibits anyone from operating or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of any intoxicating substance other than alcohol, which could cause an individual to be unable to drive or operate a vehicle safely. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs, can result in either misdemeanor or felony charges.
Under Oklahoma DUI Statutes, individuals cannot operate a motor vehicle while impaired due to alcohol or the consumption of any other substance that can be ingested, injected, inhaled, or absorbed into the human body and adversely affect the central nervous system, vision, hearing or other sensory or motor functions.
Oklahoma law in this context does not distinguish between illegal drugs and prescription medications, and the presence of either in your system could result in a DUI charge. It is possible that even over-the-counter medications could cause you to be impaired, such as medications with drowsiness side effects. Take extra care with over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants, as these may have side effects that hinder your ability to drive safely.
Additionally, you may not feel impaired after taking your regular prescription medication but some drugs can react when mixed with even small amounts of alcohol that would otherwise not affect you and cause adverse effects. Although you may be under the legal alcohol limit, if you are driving impaired because of a combination of prescription medication and alcohol, this can lead to a DUI charge.
Oklahoma Per Se DUI Laws
Under Oklahoma law, there are two ways that an individual could be charged with a drug-related DUI, per se DUIs, and impairment DUIs.
To be convicted of a DUI under per se DUI laws, the state must only prove that you had any measurable amount of a Schedule I controlled substance in your system when operating a motor vehicle. Typically, this is evidenced by a drug test. You may not show any signs of impairment. However, you can still be charged with a per se DUI if a test indicates the presence of Schedule I drugs in your body. The common Schedule I substances that can result in a per se DUI charge are marijuana (even medical), oxycodone, and cocaine.
Oklahoma Impairment DUI Laws
To be charged for an impairment DUI, the state will take a different approach. The prosecution must prove that the driver was impaired while operating their vehicle and incapable of driving safely due to an intoxicating substance. Evidence in an impairment DUI charge may include results from field sobriety tests and blood tests, accounts from law enforcement, and expert testimony.
Often, an impairment DUI charge may be appropriate in circumstances when an individual has not taken Schedule I drugs but is still impaired from using their prescription medication.
Other Possible Charges
If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer while in possession of the prescription drugs in question, such as medical marijuana or Xanax, you may also face possession of controlled substance charges if you can’t produce a valid prescription.
Usually, these charges will be dropped if you present a valid prescription to law enforcement, but legal representation could be advisable to ensure you are adequately protected.
Common Prescription Drugs
Many individuals in Oklahoma and across the United States use prescription medication on a regular basis to manage pain and treat both physical and mental conditions. Unfortunately, driving while taking your regular prescription drugs could be problematic and potentially lead to a criminal charge. Common prescription drugs that may result in impaired driving and a DUI charge include:
- Oxycodone (OxyContin)
- Hydrocodone (Norco)
- Medical Marijuana
It is explicitly stated in Oklahoma DUI Statutes that having a prescription for a controlled substance is not a defense against a prescription DUI charge in Oklahoma.
Prescription Drug DUI Penalties
The potential penalties you could face if you are convicted of a prescription drug DUI are severe and will increase if it is a repeat offense. The penalties you can expect for a DUI involving drugs are usually the same as those for an alcohol-related DUI offense in Oklahoma.
A first prescription drug DUI offense is usually a misdemeanor charge, punishable by ten days to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The individual may also be required to attend a victim impact panel and complete a substance abuse evaluation. The outcome of the evaluation may result in recommendations, such as a sobriety course or treatment, which the driver must also complete.
For a first-offense DUI, a driver’s license will be suspended for at least 180 days. The driver will also be required to enroll in Oklahoma’s Impaired Driver Accountability Program. During this program, you may have some limited driving privileges reinstated, provided that your vehicle is fitted with an ignition interlock device.
Typically, a second DUI offense that occurs within ten years of the first offense is a felony charge. Potential penalties for a drugged DUI felony include one to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. An individual will also be required to serve at least five days in an inpatient treatment center or jail. A conviction will also result in a requirement to attend a victim impact panel, undertake another substance abuse evaluation and satisfy any further recommendations.
If your second DUI offense occurs within ten years of the first offense, your driver’s license may be suspended for a minimum of one year. Your license will also not be reinstated until you have successfully completed the Impaired Driver Accountability Program.
How To Avoid A Prescription Drug DUI
Avoiding a prescription drug-related DUI can be challenging if you are on a daily medication that can result in impaired driving or that is listed as a controlled substance. In particular, if you are prescribed a drug listed on Schedule I, you could face a charge any time you drive with this substance in your system. It is advisable to refrain from driving when you are taking Schedule I drugs, such as OxyContin and Marijuana, and seek advice from a medical professional if this is impacting your life.
If you are taking prescription or over-the-counter medication, you should read warning labels and be aware of potential side effects. Do not combine medications where possible, and be aware that mixing drugs with any amount of alcohol, no matter how small, could result in impairment.
If you are arrested and charged with a DUI relating to prescription drugs, contact an attorney as soon as possible to increase your chances of avoiding a conviction.
Defenses To Prescription Drug DUI Charges
The fact that the medication you are taking has been legally prescribed to you may be a justification for why you are in possession of a controlled substance. However, this is not a defense to a DUI, as driving while under the influence of a controlled substance is a different offense from mere possession.
A potential defense could argue that you were not impaired or incapable of driving safely, even though you have taken prescription drugs. Often law enforcement will use blood tests or drug recognition experts to prove that you took prescription drugs, but these may not prove that you are unable to safely operate your motor vehicle.
Other potential defenses include inaccurate drug test results, improper traffic stops, invalid field test results, procedural errors, or inadequate evidence to prove the individual was driving.
Cannon & Associates Prescription DUI Defense Attorneys Can Help. Book Your Free Case Evaluation Today!
Prescription drug DUI charges in Oklahoma are serious criminal offenses carrying harsh penalties if convicted. Having a prescription for the medication you were taking doesn’t usually matter in the courtroom where DUIs are concerned. Often, the prosecution will view your offense no differently than someone driving drunk or under the influence of illegal drugs.
At Cannon & Associates, our DUI defense attorneys will always aim to have your charges dropped to avoid you facing any penalties entirely. This is our main goal in every case, and we will go above and beyond to achieve this. If this is not possible, we will use our experience and skill to negotiate with the prosecution to secure the best possible outcome for you. This could include a reduced charge, suspended sentence, probation instead of jail time, and overall lesser penalties.
Cannon & Associates DUI lawyers are experienced, fierce advocates for clients facing prescription drug DUI charges. We pride ourselves on regular transparent communication with our clients, bespoke defense strategies tailored to your situation, and tenacious representation. We will leave no stone unturned to provide you with the best defense possible and reduce the likelihood of a conviction and severe penalties.
If you are facing a prescription drug DUI, do not waste time before seeking legal advice. The sooner you secure your representation, the sooner your attorney can begin your defense. Contact Cannon & Associates to begin the process and schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. Call us today at 405-591-3935 to book your appointment.
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