Prescription drug use is gaining the attention of law enforcement as prescription drug use and abuse is rising dramatically. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has statistics telling us that illegal drugs are used by approximately 10-22 percent of drivers involved in all motor vehicle crashes, often in combination with alcohol.
According to other NHTSA statistics, Ohio is in the cross hairs due to high rates of prescription drug use among those involved in traffic fatalities, which means law enforcement may be looking for people driving under the influence of prescription medication, or alcohol, or both. (NHTSA Prescription Drug Study) NHTSA’s Drug Evaluation and Classification program has prepared nearly 1,000 instructors and trained more than 6,000 police officers in 46 states to recognize symptoms of driver impairment by drugs other than alcohol.
Prescription drugs of concern can include (but are not limited to): Opioids (Lortab, Percocet, Vicodin, OxyContin and Oxicodone); Sedatives or benzodiazepine (Xanax, Atavan, Valium); Prescription cold and cough medication with codeine; and prescription stimulants (Ritalin, Adderall) because all of these have the potential to effect driving ability.
It is more difficult for police officers to determine if there is impairment due to prescription medications. The standard breathalyzer test will be of no use in determining whether prescription drugs have been used. In Ohio, we have “per se” drugged driving laws that make it illegal to operate a vehicle over a certain limit, but chemical tests must be performed with precision in order to have accurate results. Keep in mind that if you are stopped and suspected of DUI, you are not required to share your personal medical history with the law enforcement officer.
If you’re stopped and the officer suspects impairment due to either drugs or alcohol, the officer may ask you to perform field sobriety tests to determine your balance, dexterity, and coordination abilities.
There are three basic field sobriety tests that may be performed to help build evidence that your ability to drive is impaired. One is the nine-step walk and turn. The test consists of walking heel to toe for nine steps, make a turn, and walk nine steps back. The second test is the horizontal gaze nystagmus – or pen test. Nystagmus is the bouncing eyes do naturally and involuntarily when looking all the way right or left. The one leg stand is the third test and the challenge here is to keep your balance as you stand on one leg. Based on these tests and the officer’s observation of your driving, you may be required to take a blood, breath, or urine test to provide police the evidence they need to convict you of OVI (operating a vehicle while impaired).
DUI attorney in Columbus
If you are being accused of DUI or DWI in Columbus, you need the representation of a skilled and trusted attorney to protect your rights. This is especially when prescription drugs may be involved.
The Maher Law Firm can help make sure that your rights are protected. Founding attorney, Colin Maher is a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) certified practitioner for field sobriety testing, which is the same training police officers take. This training helps him evaluate and challenge the evidence collection involved in the BAC test process. Call The Maher Law Firm today for a free consultation at 614-205-2208 or contact us online.