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Can You Be Charged with Prescription Drug OUI?

Posted on : December 26, 2019
prescription-drug-oui

Expanded OUI Terms

In Massachusetts, the term OUI, or “operating under the influence,” is generally thought to be associated with alcohol intoxication. However, OUI charges have been expanded to include other sources of impairment, including prescription drugs. Is it possible to get charged with a crime after taking medication that was prescribed to you? 

Were You Driving While Impaired?

Typically, the degree to which you are impaired during a traffic stop is considered before the cause of impairment. An officer does not have to prove you were drinking and driving to be able to make an arrest; they have the right to take you into custody if they believe you are impaired and/or cannot operate your vehicle safely. 

How Officers Measure Prescription Drug Impairment 

A breathalyzer test is unable to assess the presence of drugs, so it cannot be used in cases of suspected drug impairment. The following is often used instead: 

Observations of the Arresting Officer 

When you’re pulled over by a law enforcement officer, you’re already being heavily scrutinized for signs of intoxication or criminal behavior. Things like slurred speech, red eyes, injection marks on the forearms, and extreme drowsiness may be enough evidence for the officer who stopped you to make an arrest. 

Field Sobriety Tests 

A common tool used to evaluate suspected drugged driving is field sobriety testing. Comprised of the walk-and-turn, horizontal gaze nystagmus, and one-leg stand tests, roadside sobriety assessments are designed to highlight impaired coordination, balance, speech, and motor skills. 

It’s usually in your best interest to decline field sobriety testing, considering you aren’t legally required to submit to it. These tests are highly inaccurate and if you perform poorly, you are likely to be arrested for OUI. 

Chemical Testing 

Chemical testing is usually done either at the police station or a medical facility after you are taken into custody. While you can also decline to submit to a blood test, this results in automatic penalties, such as the suspension of your driver’s license. A jury may also consider the refusal of an unspoken admission of guilt. 

Arrested for Drugged Driving? Contact an Attorney 

Were you charged with operating under the influence of prescription drugs in Massachusetts? It’s critical that you obtain legal representation as quickly as possible. If convicted, you face serious penalties, including hefty fines and jail time. Call experienced criminal defense lawyers Adams & Kokonowski, LLC today for a consultation at 413.737.9700. 

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