Prescription drugs and driving can be a dangerous combination

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

To face operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) charges in Ohio, you’d typically need a high enough blood or breath alcohol concentration level at the time of the offense. OVIs are often associated with drunk driving, but being sloshed isn’t the only way to face charges.

Ohio’s OVI laws also explicitly prohibit a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, which includes prescription drugs. Not following the law can lead to severe legal consequences.

What the law says about prescription drugs

According to state law, it is illegal to use a vehicle while under the influence of “a drug of abuse or a combination of them.” Ohio broadly defines “drug of abuse” to include any controlled substance, as well as certain over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs that can impair a person’s driving ability.

Medications that can potentially impair

Many prescription drugs, even when taken as directed, can impair a person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. These include:

  • Anti-anxiety medication: Xanax and Valium
  • Opioid painkillers: Oxycodone, hydrocodone and codeine
  • Sleep aids: Ambien and Lunesta

Any medication that can induce intoxication or sleepiness can negatively affect a driver’s ability to control their vehicle and could draw the attention of police officers.

The consequences of drug-impaired driving

Driving under the influence of prescription drugs can have severe legal consequences. Those consequences include:

  • Criminal charges: An OVI conviction can result in fines, jail time, and a permanent criminal record.
  • License suspension: A court can order the suspension or revocation of the offender’s driver’s license, even for a first offense.
  • Increased insurance rates: An OVI conviction can cause auto insurance rates to skyrocket.

These are the same consequences faced by those charged with OVI for driving drunk on alcohol.

Whether you face allegations of OVI for being under the influence of prescription drugs or alcohol, a conviction can only mean steep penalties. But you don’t have to face the court alone; a legal professional can guide you through your situation and represent you in the hearing. Facing OVI charges may be scary, but you have a right to defend yourself in court.