Convictions for impaired driving are not limited to the usual suspects of alcohol, illegal drugs or marijuana. Driving while taking legally prescribed drugs may be dangerous and lead to an arrest requiring an OUI defense.
Benzodiazepines, opioids and other prescription drugs can impair a motorist’s skills by causing drowsiness, dizziness and impair the ability for thinking and making judgments. These can lead to car crashes.
According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration, 43.6 percent of drivers killed in crashes in 2016 tested positive for drugs. More than half of those motorists tested positive for at least two drugs.
Opioids, in particular, can make a driver drowsy and impair their thinking and judgment. Being under the influence of opioids, according to some studies, can double the risk of an auto accident.
Many times, drivers mix drugs with alcohol. This increases the danger and the odds for an OUI prosecution.
Even though it is illegal, however, prosecutions for prescription-impaired driving faces obstacles. Unlike tests for alcohol, there are no generally recognized tests that indicate impairment from the amount of the drug in blood or urine. No acceptable roadside tests for drugs exist.
Also, some drugs remain in a driver’s system for days or weeks after they were taken. This makes it harder to determine when the drug was taken and whether and how much the drug impaired driving, especially if the motorist followed the instructions for taking the drug.
Police do not routinely test for a level of drugs if drivers exceeded the legal BAC level for alcohol. This alone would constitute enough evidence for an OUI charge for driving while impaired from alcohol. It was difficult to determine which substance had the greatest effect on driving with drivers who caused accidents and had drugs and alcohol or multiple drugs in their system.
A driver stopped for an OUI should seek immediate legal representation. An attorney can help pursue their rights in cases where they were taking legal drugs and marijuana.