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Ohio OVI Law: How Prescription Meds Affect Sobriety Tests?

Posted On: February 25th, 2020   |   Posted by: Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP
pharmaceutical drugs

Medications can have powerful effects. Oftentimes, people are surprised at how their system reacts to prescription drugs, and they can seriously affect you behind the wheel.

If you are pulled over in Ohio, you may wonder how any prescription medications you are taking will affect a sobriety test if the police request one. While field sobriety tests are optional in Ohio, an experienced Columbus drug lawyer can help protect your rights if you are arrested for driving under the influence of legal medications.

Contact Luftman, Heck & Associates to discuss your case. Do not hesitate to call (614) 500-3836 for a free, confidential consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

Prescription Medications While Driving

Police and prosecutors have become more concerned with prescription medication use over the last several years as drug abuse has increased in Ohio. In fact, up to 30 % of drug addiction cases in the United States involve legal prescriptions.

While the legal blood alcohol content limit is .08 percent, there is no comparable limit for most prescription drugs. You can be arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) simply if the officer determines that your medication has made it too difficult for you to drive safely.

Prescription drugs can make operating a vehicle very dangerous. This is particularly true when they have either a stimulating or sedating effect.

There are various prescription drugs that cause deadly accidents on the road, some are:

  • Opiates such as Vicodin, Lortab, OxyContin, and Oxycodone
  • Sedatives-hypnotics such as Valium, Xanax, and Diazepam
  • Stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin

How Prescription Medications Effect Field Sobriety Test

Being pulled over can be very intimidating. You will possibly be subjected to several DUI tests to determine if you are sober enough to drive.

Officers will first check your body’s physical control and reflexes. For example, stimulants may make it difficult for you to properly control your arm and eye movements. However, sedatives greatly reduce your reaction time.

Field sobriety tests for prescription medications include:

  • One leg stand test – Prescription drugs can affect your balance and make it impossible for you to stand on one leg.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus test – Medication can make it difficult for you to steadily follow something with your eyes, and you may be experiencing sudden jerking movements.
  • Walk and turn test – Your ability to comprehend and follow instructions may be reduced if you are under the influence of a lot of prescription drugs.

Medications Can Result in Failed Breath Tests

If you are subjected to a sobriety test after being pulled over, the officer will possibly test your breath for traces of alcohol. This usually involves you blowing into a handheld breathalyzer that will then give the officer a reading of your blood alcohol content (BAC).

These handheld devices are far from perfect, and there are many things that can cause an inaccurate return. Many medications contain alcohol even though they will not affect you the same way an alcoholic drink will.

Of the many medications that contain alcohol, some are:

  • Albuterol, which is found in asthma inhalers
  • Anbesol, which is in pain relievers used for toothaches and canker sores
  • Cold or flu medicines such as Vicks Formula 44 or NyQuil
  • Cough medications including even cough drops

While being intoxicated because you took medication can result in an OVI arrest, even a harmless amount of certain medications will possibly return an erroneously high BAC in a breath test. Contact us immediately if a faulty breathalyzer results in an arrest. Your lawyer can employ more sophisticated blood tests to demonstrate that you were not intoxicated when you were pulled over.

Luftman, Heck & Associates Can Help You

Prescription meds can have serious side effects that can lead to criminal charges if you are driving. Drugged driving is pursued very seriously and you will need an experienced defense attorney if you are arrested after a failed sobriety test based on prescription drug intoxication. Do not hesitate to seek legal help.

Contact the skilled Columbus drug lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates today. Call us at (614) 500-3836.

I can FINALLY breathe easy now. I want to thank Mr. Bowen and all the attorneys that helped me with this case.

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