Is Drugged Driving and DUI Under The Influence of Drugs The Same Thing?

A motorist in Columbus can be arrested and charged with DUI for either operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs, operating a vehicle with a prohibited level of drugs in their blood or urine (drugged driving), or both.  One difference between the two offenses is that a person could be charged with operating under the influence of a drug abuse, but not be over the legal limit for that drug in their blood or urine.

If a person is charged with DUI for driving under the influence of drugs, it is usually not a defense that the drug of abuse was taken pursuant to a prescription.  This is because the prescribed medication (drug) was taken voluntarily, and typically the prescription comes with a warning not to operate a vehicle or heavy machinery.  However, it may be possible to claim that there was an unpredictable reaction to the medication, and thus involuntary.  Under that situation, it would have to be shown that the medication was taken as prescribed and that there was no warning or instruction not to operate a vehicle.

On the other hand, if a person is charged with drugged driving only (meaning the level of the prescribed medication in the person’s blood or urine was over the legal limit), it is a defense that the drug was taken according to a prescription issued by a licensed health professional.  Again, it would have to be shown that the person was not abusing their prescription and was merely taking the medication in accordance with the prescribed directions.

If you’ve been arrested because of DUI of drugs in Columbus and were taking a prescribed medication at the time, contact us here.

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