How Do Valid Prescriptions Affect DUII Cases?

Interviewer: Oregon is a progressive state regarding medical marijuana. Do you see a lot of cases where, in addition to a DUII, someone has prescription or illegal drugs in their car and is charged separately for possession?

Shannon: Yes; you can be charged for possession. Oregon law says you have to have the prescription on you. If you do not have your prescription, you can be charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Whether or not the district attorney is going to move forward with those charges depends on what is unveiled after your arrest and initial investigation.

Suppose a person has a lawful prescription but it is not on them. Most of the time, there is a good argument to be made with the state that this was not possession.

Interviewer: What exactly is a prescription “on them?” Is a pill bottle with a prescription on it enough? Do you need a physical paper that says, “Joe Blow has a prescription for this drug?”

Shannon: It can be either.

Interviewer: Will carrying such drugs in the original prescribed container reduce the likelihood of a possession charge?

Shannon: If you have the container, you are talking about a prescription narcotic of some sort. You may have a prescription that is on a bottle; or you have the prescription with you. Still, you could run into an officer that is a real jerk and does not believe you. He then charges you with possession of controlled substance, anyway. I have seen that happen before.

Whether that is actually going to stick, or make it past the initial charging stage, is unlikely. As far as medical marijuana use goes, medical marijuana patients have medical marijuana holder cards. They are holding it. It is a card they can show to law enforcement.

Interviewer: If you have marijuana on you, should you carry your card to prevent a charge of possession of a controlled substance?

Shannon: Yes, you should.

Interviewer: What other ancillary charges are there??

Shannon: A fairly common charge occurs when an injury is involved. You have a passenger in the vehicle and there is an injury that results from your DUII. For example, you crashed into something. Even if the passenger just bumped an arm, you could face a full four charges too.

Interviewer: If an injury is involved, is it a misdemeanor or a felony?

Shannon: Fourth degree; it is a class “A” misdemeanor too. Note there is also the option of civil compromise in these situations. A lot of times, that means you covering the medical bills. That could be a lot more expensive for you.

Shannon I. Wilson, Esq.

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