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What Ohio motorists should know about drugged driving

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2023 | Drunk Driving

Most people understand the rules related to drunk driving in Ohio. People realize they need to wait to sober up before they drive home or wait until the next day to drive after overindulging. Fewer people understand what constitutes drugged driving, a statutory infraction which could potentially lead to criminal charges.

Operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) charges in Ohio can be the result of visible impairment while driving, having an elevated blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or driving while under the influence of drugs. While the charges and penalties possible are largely the same, some of the standards that apply are significantly different when an OVI charge relates to drugs instead of alcohol.

There is no legal limit for controlled substances

For the average adult driving their own vehicle, the legal limit for their BAC during a traffic stop is 0.08%. Someone could have two or three alcoholic beverages and still be under the limit. Even if someone doesn’t look drunk, a test showing they are at or over that level could lead to their prosecution. However, there is no such limit for drugged driving. The presence of any amount of certain controlled substances in someone’s bloodstream can be enough to justify OVI charges.

Prescription drugs are not safer

Those thinking about drugged driving probably understand that driving after consuming a prohibited drug could lead to their arrest and prosecution. What people often do not understand is that many prescription medications that affect driving ability are also subject to zero-tolerance OVI enforcement efforts.

Muscle relaxants, pain relievers, anti-epilepsy drugs and even certain psychiatric medications can make it unsafe for someone to drive. A broad range of prescription and over-the-counter medications may impair driving ability. Even if the motorist feels like they have developed a tolerance and can drive safely, police officers and prosecutors may not agree with them.

Drugged driving OVI charges in Ohio can lead to incarceration, fines and a driver’s license suspension. Much like with alcohol-related OVIs, it is possible to defend against drugged driving allegations. Reviewing the state’s evidence with an attorney can help someone determine what defense strategy might work for drug-related OVI charges in Ohio.