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How to Fight a Prescription Drug OUI Charge

Posted on December 20, 2023 in

Massachusetts drivers generally know that it is against the law to drive while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances (illegal drugs). What they may not know is that it is also possible to be charged with the crime of operating under the influence (OUI) for driving after consuming prescription medications, such as painkillers, antidepressants and antipsychotics.

If you get arrested for a prescription drug OUI, contact a criminal defense attorney in Concord at Spring & Spring for legal assistance.

What Elements Must Be Proven in a Massachusetts OUI Case?

Fighting a prescription drug OUI charge starts with understanding Massachusetts’s OUI laws. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90, Section 24, prohibits individuals from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, narcotic drugs, depressants, stimulants or similar drugs. This definition includes prescription drugs if they have an impairing or intoxicating effect.

In an OUI criminal case, the prosecutor bears the burden of proof. The prosecution must show using clear and convincing evidence that you are guilty of operating under the influence “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The elements that must be proven to achieve a guilty verdict in an OUI case are: 1) the defendant was operating a motor vehicle, 2) the vehicle was on a public roadway, and 3) the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Explore Your Defense Options

Upon your arrest, use your right to remain silent to avoid unintentionally incriminating yourself. Do not admit to being on a prescription medication, for example, or to feeling impaired. Instead, politely state that you will not be answering any questions until you have an attorney present. If OUI charges are brought against you, one or more defense options may be available:

  • Lack of probable cause: if the police officer did not have probable cause to pull you over, this could result in the case against you being dismissed. Civil rights violations, such as illegal search and seizure, may also result in evidence being ruled inadmissible during your case.
  • Inaccurate field sobriety test results: you may have a reasonable explanation for failing a field sobriety test, such as a medical condition or physical disability, that has nothing to do with being on a prescription drug.
  • Valid prescription from a doctor: although it may not allow you to avoid an OUI charge completely, proving that your impairment was attributable to a medication that was prescribed by your physician could be used to negotiate a plea deal and reduce the penalties.

If case dismissal is not an option for you, a criminal defense attorney may engage in plea bargaining or fight for an alternative sentence on your behalf, such as drug rehabilitation programs or community service, to protect you from more severe OUI penalties.

Hire an Experienced OUI Defense Attorney

The best thing you can do to fight a prescription drug OUI charge in Massachusetts is to hire a qualified and highly experienced Concord OUI defense attorney. Your attorney will know exactly what steps to take to build a strong defense in your favor. This may include filing motions to suppress certain evidence or having the charges against you dismissed based on insufficient proof.

It may be possible to stay out of court while your defense attorney handles negotiations with prosecutors for you. If your case has to go to trial, you can trust your defense attorney to advocate for your rights and fight for the best possible case outcome on your behalf. A lawyer can tell a compelling story to a judge and jury to help you fight an OUI allegation.

For more information about fighting a prescription drug OUI in Massachusetts, contact Spring & Spring for a free and confidential case evaluation.