Wait a Minute
These days it seems like everyone takes a pill for something. Just go to a doctor with an ache or a pain, and walk away with a little pill to cure what ails you. Some drugs are more sinister than others though.
A blood pressure pill isn’t likely to cause much of a problem. But what about that bottle of Percocet? Now we are talking about some real drugs. Take a few for some pain, and you really will “feel no pain.”
And consider some other common meds. We are all depressed at some point in our lives. Our grandparents just took a little “suck-it-up-soup.” But we have the wonders of modern medicine. So we can take a pill to fix our heads. I’m not saying we shouldn’t. But some of these meds have some serious side effects. And some can make us down-right stoned. Even the common ADHD meds can cause problems. These are mostly stimulants. Like Percocet these days, these amphetimines have some solid street value.
So why do I care about this? Well here’s the problem. Who really follows the proper indications of their scripts all the time? What about taking these pills with alcohol? What about driving after taking these pills? Does the average person on depression meds stop drinking? They probably should, but many don’t.
Now they find themselves in my office talking about their DUI/OVI charge. So they get stopped for the run-of-the-mill drunk driving offense. Then, for whatever reasons, the cops take a urine or blood sample. Sure enough, the 8 beers the person consumed show up. But right below that on the score sheet is the amphetamine or the opiate or whatever other drug they took.
This can really complicate the scenario. It’s one thing to defend an alcohol case. It’s another matter when we add the drugs. It turns out that it’s also a crime to drive with an illicit drug in our system. Or, as the law says, a “drug of abuse.”
But wait, we have a prescription for that. That will help, but not always.
First is the situation where a person only has the prescribed drug in their system. This can be a manageable problem. The OVI law in Ohio, written in R.C. 4511.19, allows for this. Buried deep in the back of the multi-page statute is a section that gives us some absolution for our prescribed drugs. Maybe the lawmakers wanted some cover for their valium prescription (aka habit).
So, under subsection K of 4511.19, there’s an exception for those with a script who are taking the drug in the proper prescribed manner.
The highlighted portion—properly prescribed manner—brings us to the second situation, which is a little more complicated. How many drugs actually permit us to drink while taking them? And even so, how many remain in our system well beyond their effectiveness? So consider this. We took a drug yesterday and a day later, when the pain meds have worn off, we go “self-medicate” with a few beers. Now both booze and drugs are in our system at the same time. The cops don’t care. The test shows both, and you are getting charged with a crime, even if the alcohol levels are below the legal limit. The trick here is that we have to take the drug in the prescribed manner. And most don’t let us drink.
Now we are in defensive mode. We have to somehow convince the courts that you weren’t drinking and taking the drug at the same time. This is tricky business. And imagine the scoffs we will get when we try to prove these facts.
Worse yet is the situation where the person doesn’t have a script at all. Lots of folks these days go to the clinic every day to get their methadone. It’s great that they are off the heroin, but methadone is still a scheduled drug. And many people don’t even bother with the clinic. They just buy it on the street right in front of the clinic from others who have the clinic script. Now the people without the script won’t have heroin in their system, but the methadone will still trigger the OVI (with or without alcohol).
The point here is that a script may not always help. And even so, a little alcohol will complicate matters even more. So, next time read the fine print on the paper that comes with the pill bottle. Or, even easier, just listen to the pharmacist in the white robe who is trying to tell you about the drug.