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Attorneys Stephen G. Fabian Jr. and Brian P. Young

When can prescription drugs lead to an Oklahoma DUI or APC?

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2023 | APC Charges |

Impaired driving is illegal in every state, although the laws criminalizing intoxication at the wheel are slightly different in every state across the country. In Oklahoma, many people refer to drunk driving charges as driving under the influence (DUI) offenses.

However, when looking at criminal statutes, it can be more reasonable to refer to those charges as Actual Physical Control (APC) charges. Anyone who is in physical control of a motor vehicle while over the limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or under the influence of other mind-altering drugs could very well end up facing major charges as a result. Yet, some APC allegations relate not to alcohol but rather to theoretically lawful prescription medication. When might someone’s prescriptions lead to their criminal prosecution?

Many prescriptions affect driving ability

Those taking prescription medication often become accustomed to the impact of those drugs relatively quickly and may therefore fail to acknowledge how dangerous they actually are. Someone who no longer feels sleepy after taking an opioid painkiller, for example, might assume that they can now drive safely while using pain medication. However, under Oklahoma state law, there is no legal limit for drugs that affect someone’s driving ability other than alcohol. In other words, having a low level of a narcotic pain reliever in one’s bloodstream is sufficient to lead to criminal charges even if some were able to drive in a normal fashion.

Given that there is per se no limit or cut-off for controlled substances or their metabolites, any amount can lead to charges. Provided that the drug has a reputation for affecting motor function or cognitive ability, the state could potentially use someone’s admission of taking that drug or chemical test results as grounds for an APC charge. Opioid pain relievers aren’t the only prescription drugs that may trigger such a serious, zero-tolerance approach to enforcement on the roads. Medications ranging from stimulants and antidepressants to epilepsy drugs are also known to cause difficulty while driving and could therefore trigger someone’s arrest and then APC charges.

Fighting drugged driving allegations is possible

Although many people feel hopeless when the state accuses them of impairment at the wheel, especially if they failed a chemical test or admitted they took certain prescription drugs, mounting a successful defense is still theoretically possible. There are many ways for those accused of an APC of offense in Oklahoma to respond and potentially avoid a criminal conviction. Making sense of the unique impaired driving statutes in Oklahoma is an important first step for anyone arrested and potentially facing APC charges. Seeking legal guidance can help to provide this clarity.