Lots of people take prescription medication every day: According to a Georgetown University study, more than 131 million people — that’s two out of three adults in the United States.
About 200,000 people in Ohio are registered as patients under the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. Many more people than that consume marijuana illegally.
Over 8 million Ohioans are licensed drivers. That means that there are over 5 million drivers in Ohio who take prescription medication every day.
Some of them should not be driving.
In Clinton County, a few thousand motorists receive traffic tickets each year. Last year, over 250 of those citations involved Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence (OVI). Most of the time the driver has consumed several different substances.
Some medications make it illegal for you to drive. It doesn’t matter that the doctor said to take it. The doctor did not tell you to drive with it.
When your medication is labeled with a warning sticker, take that label seriously. It may save your life.
More and more people are using some form of marijuana. I am not going to debate legalization here; that is a separate discussion. If you use marijuana, you are not legal to drive.
Marijuana stays active in your system for much longer than other drugs. Using even a little bit makes driving illegal long after you stop feeling the effects of the drug.
Record numbers of Ohioans are working to recover from opiate addiction. Many of them use prescribed medications like Suboxone, Subutex, and Methadone as part of their treatment plan. These medications, like all opiates, can affect your ability to drive safely.
If you use these medications — even if you take them as prescribed — you may not be legal to drive.
Drug OVI charges are serious. When a person is found guilty of driving under the influence of illegal drugs like fentanyl, methamphetamine, and marijuana (our most popular combination), they usually spend at least a month in the county jail.
Recently, a person pled guilty to a third drug OVI within three years, and is serving a one-year jail sentence. That person will not have a valid license for five years.
Never use illegal drugs, and never use drugs in an illegal way. Discuss your medication with your doctor to make sure that you are not a danger to yourself or others when you travel in Ohio.
Mike Daugherty is Judge of the Clinton County Municipal Court.