Arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs?

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Columbus drivers can learn from Kerry Kennedy’s recent DUI case (where she claimed to be “accidentally” under the influence of prescription drugs), including her arrest, defense, jury trial, and ultimate acquittal.

Prescription Drug OVI Lawyer

I’ve previously written for Columbus drivers about the difference in Ohio DUI or OVI law between “drugged driving,” meaning having a prohibited concentration of a controlled substance in your blood or urine; and driving under the influence of a drug of abuse, meaning that your ability to operate a vehicle is impaired due to drugs.  If you had a valid prescription for the controlled substance found in your blood or urine and you took the medication as prescribed, then you have a valid defense under Ohio Revised Code section 4511.19(K) to the DUI/OVI charge of “drugged driving.”  But what about as a DUI/OVI defense to an impaired charge?

Taking medication in Columbus as prescribed and having the unforeseen consequence of becoming impaired is a valid defense under Ohio law. The key here is that the impairment must be unforeseen.  There are factors at play that anyone charged with DUI/OVI in Columbus should consider.  First, for example, did the prescription come with any warnings about not driving or operating heavy equipment?  Second, was alcohol involved?  Most prescriptions come with a warning to not take the medication with alcohol.  Third, did the person know, from previous experience, that the medication caused drowsiness or impairment?  Thoroughly analyzing the medication, side effects, prescription history, etc. is key to successfully defending a DUI/OVI involving prescription drugs.

Kerry Kennedy’s DUI case is a classic example.  Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of Robert Kennedy and niece of President John F. Kennedy, was charged in New York with driving under the influence of prescription drugs.  Her defense was that she had taken a prescription sleeping pill, mistakenly thinking it was her thyroid medication, before she drove to work out at her local gym and that the sleeping medication caused her to “sleep drive” without even knowing it.  The prosecutor argued that she should have realized what was happening and that she chose to continue driving despite recognizing the signs of impairment.  The jury believed Ms. Kennedy.  That is, they believed that she accidentally took the wrong prescription and that she was sleep driving without even knowing it.  As a result, the jury found her “Not Guilty” of all charges.

If you have been charged with DUI or OVI in Columbus or central Ohio, call us at 547-5757 for a free consultation and case analysis.  We can give you solid advice about how to best defend the case.