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Will My Prescription Drug Lead to a DUI?

Sabah Khalaf
6 minute read

It doesn’t take much to lose a lot. Everyone knows that getting behind the wheel when drunk or high on drugs like cocaine or even marijuana can lead to serious consequences, not the least of which is a driving under the influence (DUI) charge. But not many people realize they could be facing these same consequences for the legally prescribed drugs they use everyday.

Can a Prescription Drug Still Lead to a DUI?

Yes—prescription drugs, as well as illegal drugs, can lead to a driving under the influence charge. It’s called a DUI-Drugs or DUI-D, and in Oklahoma, it comes with the same penalties as getting a DUI for alcohol. Even if you’ve been lawfully prescribed the drug, you’re not allowed to drive if you are impaired. But what does that mean in Oklahoma?

Factors That Lead to a DUI-D for Prescription Drugs

Oklahoma has a zero-tolerance policy for Schedule I drugs, like heroin and LSD, which have no medical usage under the law. You don’t have to be actively under the influence of these drugs to get a DUI-D—you only need to have trace amounts in your system. However, most prescription drugs are Schedule II, III, or IV. Hydrocodone and oxycodone are Schedule II and are some of the most common drugs involved in DUI cases. Tylenol with codeine is a Schedule III drug. Schedule IV includes some very commonly prescribed drugs like Xanax, Valium, and Ambien.

According to Oklahoma Statutes Title 47, Section 47, to be charged with a DUI-D for prescription drugs while driving, you must “drive, operate, or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle…[while] under the influence of any intoxicating substance other than alcohol which may render such person incapable of safely driving or operating the motor vehicle.” The state uses a variety of methods to determine if you’re impaired.

How Does the State Prove a DUI-D?

If you’re under the influence of prescription drugs while driving and get pulled over, you might show signs that make the officer suspicious, like slurred speech, confusion, slow reaction times, and extra-large or small pupils. Many traffic officers in Oklahoma are specifically trained to look for these signs.

If the officer suspects you’re under the influence of drugs, they will:

  • Ask you questions about your recent and past use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Ask you to perform various physical actions to help them detect if you’re under the influence.
  • Ask if you’re willing to submit to the “State’s Test,” which means a breathalyzer or blood test.

Note that breathalyzers can only detect alcohol, so if you pass a breathalyzer test and the officer still has strong suspicions you are under the influence of some substance, they may arrest you and take you in for a blood test. In that case, the officer will:

  • Have a medical professional administer the blood test, likely at a local hospital.
  • Send your blood test to a lab that’s been approved by the Oklahoma Board of Tests.
  • Release you when your bail is paid.

You’ll be notified when your test results come back. This could take a few months, depending on how backed up the system is. If drugs are detected in your blood sample, your case will then make its way through the courts in the same way as a typical DUI.

What Are My Rights If I’m Stopped for a DUI-D?

If an officer suspects you’re under the influence of prescription drugs while driving, they’ll follow the process outlined above. You do not legally have to answer their questions or submit to either the physical tests or State’s Test.

While you have the right to refuse the State’s Test, your license will be suspended automatically, and you can still be arrested and charged with a DUI-D. However, if your license is suspended, you may be able to get it back through Oklahoma’s Impaired Driver Accountability Program (IDAP) or by filing an appeal. The State may also not have the evidence they need to convict you. These are all things to consider if you’re stopped for a DUI-D in Oklahoma.

What Is the Punishment for DUI-D in Oklahoma?

A DUI-D for prescription drugs while driving has the same punishment as a DUI for alcohol. Your first offense is a misdemeanor, and you could be fined up to $1,000 or face up to a year in jail, although you probably won’t go to jail if no one was hurt and you’re not on probation.

Multiple DUIs in Oklahoma have more severe penalties. Your second DUI is a felony with a fine of $2,500 and a minimum punishment of one year in jail, up to five years, although you will likely receive a deferred or suspended sentence and serve probation instead. A third DUI has a fine of $5,000 and up to 10 years in jail.

Whether it’s your first or fifth DUI-D, you’ll also have to participate in a drug assessment with a counselor, go to DUI school, and attend a Victim Impact Panel. You might also have to do community service.

How Can a Lawyer Help With a DUI-D Charge?

If you’ve been charged with using prescription drugs while driving, an experienced DUI lawyer may be able to help you:

  • Get out of jail
  • Appeal your license suspension
  • Apply for the Impaired Driver Accountability Program
  • Challenge your test results
  • Work out a plea agreement
  • Get your case dismissed

It’s possible you could even resolve your case without a conviction or loss of your license. And that can make a big difference for your future.

The Bottom Line

Every case of using prescription drugs while driving is different. The type of drug, amount in your system, how the officer behaved, and whether they followed proper procedure can all impact your case. It’s important to have a lawyer like the Tulsa DUI Guy on your side so you get the best possible outcome. Get a free case evaluation today to see how we can help you.