Maine Prescription Drug OUI

An OUI can occur due to impairment by any type of intoxicant. According to Maine law section 2411, a person can be charged with criminal OUI for operating a vehicle “while under the influence of intoxicants”. OUI law is intentionally vague in order to cover many types of drugs. Prescription drugs are very common in Maine and can lead to OUI charges. Prescription drug abuse is also high in Maine. In fact, in 2011 it was reported that since 1998 Maine resident sought treatment for prescription opiate abuse at a higher rate than any other state.

Maine Prescription Drug Laws

Under Maine Criminal Code, section 1101, a prescription drug is defined as a drug that:

A. Under federal law is required, prior to being dispensed or delivered, to be labeled with either of the following statements:

(1) "Caution: Federal law prohibits dispensing without prescription."; or

(2) "Caution: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.";

or

B. Is required by an applicable federal or state law or rule to be dispensed on prescription only or is restricted to use by practitioners only

Some common drugs that are involved in prescription drug OUIs include:

  • Vicodin
  • Lortab
  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycontin
  • Percocet
  • Ambien
  • Lunesta

It is not illegal to operate a vehicle in Maine while taking prescription drugs. The only time that it is illegal is when the drug is determined to cause impairment. This can be very difficult to determine because many drugs can cause impairment in some but not in others. A lot of it depends on the side effects that patient's experience. A prescription drug that that causes any of the following side effects can be ruled as causing OUI, even if the user has never reported experiencing such effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Impaired coordination
  • Impaired judgment
  • Sleep driving

Testing Prescription Drug OUI

A drug does not have to have been abused in order for charges to occur. In fact, a prescription drug that is medically necessary and that was taken in proper dosage can still be accused of causing OUI. Testing for drugs is not as precise as testing for alcohol impairment. Police have fewer options for evaluating drug impairment because Breathalyzer tests do not detect drug intoxication. The most scientific of the standardized field sobriety tests, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, is also ineffective at determining drug impairment.

Drug chemical testing is also not as good as alcohol testing. Only blood and urine tests can evaluate for drug intoxication. Even then, many tests do not give detailed readings so there is no way to know how much of the drug was consumed. There could be a big difference in impairment between someone who took one pain killer for back pain and another who took a handful of pills. Another factor that drug tests may not determine is when the drug was consumed. When alcohol is present in the body, some impairment may always be possible however traces of drugs stay in the system long after the effects have worn off.

While these testing issues may help some people avoid prescription drug OUI conviction, they can also make it easier to be charged. A person who used a drug several days before may test positive on a chemical sobriety drug test even if they were not impaired in the slightest. A driver who took Oxycontin or similar painkillers days earlier will test positive for opiates which include illegal drugs like heroin. Drug tests are not able to tell specifically what kind of drug was taken.

Prescription Drug OUI Penalties

If convicted for OUI involving prescription drugs, a person can face the following penalties based on their past OUI record:

  • First OUI:
    • Class D criminal charges
    • A fine of at least $500
    • At least 48 hours of jail time
    • License suspension of 90 days
  • Second OUI: 
    • Class D criminal charges
    • A fine of at least $700
    • At least 7 days of jail time
    • License suspension for 3 years
  • Third OUI:
    • Class C criminal charges
    • A fine of at least $1,100
    • At least 30 days of jail time
    • License suspension for 6 years
  • Fourth+ OUI:
    • Class C criminal charges
    • A fine of at least $2,100
    • At least 6 months of jail time
    • License suspension for 6 years
    • Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
Maine Prescription Drug OUI

If you or someone you love have been arrested in Maine for a prescription drug related OUI, call attorney William T Bly right now. The best way to avoid the penalties of your charges is to fight and avoid conviction.

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