Interviewer: In some states it’s operating while intoxicated, operating under the influence, so that’s why I wanted to be clear about that. And you said it’s operating under the influence of intoxicants. I understand alcohol is one but in terms of illegal drugs I can see, marijuana, heroin, ecstasy, PCP, mushrooms, and others. How about prescription drugs, are they a part of the DUI statutes of Oregon?
Shannon: Under the statute, the definition is under the influence of a controlled substance. So a lot of the prescription drugs can and are in fact are controlled substances. This would include painkillers or anti-anxiety medications, and sleep aids. People who use those and then are adversely affected by the use of those substances and choose to drive can be arrested for DUII.
Interviewer: I see.
Defining Controlled Substances in Oregon
Shannon: You have to delve into the nuances in the law and see what qualifies as a controlled substance and what does not. So you can be under the influence of a prescription drug that is not a controlled substance that has some sort of adverse effect. If it is determined this drug is not in the controlled substance category, then you’re not going to be charged with DUII.
Interviewer: So what would happen if you drank Nyquil and it made you sleepy and you were driving around and you’re pulled over? Would you have a possibility of being arrested and charged by doing that?
Shannon: I think that NyQuil has some alcohol in it, doesn’t it?
Interviewer: Yes. It’s over the counter.
Shannon: So if it was under the influence, I guess it would still be considered intoxicating liquor in that case because of the alcohol. Because I guess at that point it would be whether or not according to the chemical analysis you’re either above the .08 percent, which is the legal limit here in Oregon. Or that that NyQuil affects your mental and physical faculties.
Interviewer: What percentage of cases do you see are alcohol-related to versus drug-related?
Popular Prescription Medication and Impairment Charges
Shannon: Most of the cases that I see are alcohol-related. I would say that 60 percent of the cases that I see are solely intoxicating liquor. Another percentage would probably be 25 percent where marijuana’s involved and maybe about 10 percent to 15 percent where there’s alcohol and some prescription drugs, such as Vicodin, Larazipan, Atavan or something like that. So there are a few cases too that are the Ambian DUIs. Ambien is a popular sleeping aid.
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