Driving under the influence of alcohol isn’t the only way be charged with an OWI. Under state law, driving under the influence of certain other enumerated controlled substances will also lead to a DUI charge. In fact, not only are criminal ramifications severe for the association of drugs and use of a motor vehicle, but license suspensions can be more restrictive as well.
Whenever a “nexus” or connection is proven between the use of a motor vehicle and the ingestion of a controlled substance, a minimum license suspension of six months is to be imposed both at the present time as well as with the enactment of new laws at the start of 2015. Unlike the future reduction for alcohol dui from anywhere between a zero day to two year license suspension, the six month minimum will remain intact when applied toward owi/controlled substance allegations.
Recently, the case of a woman arrested this fall in Indiana illustrates the severity that exists when allegations of drug usage are applied to alleged impaired operating activity and the extent to which all states are prioritizing punishments when evidence of drug use exists within the context of an owi investigation. While in Florida, the woman was allegedly driving while high on cocaine when she hit an 82-year old man. The man was killed, and law enforcement eventually caught up with the woman in Indiana. She now faces charges of causing a death while operating a vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance.
Controlled substance violations are classified under Indiana statutes depending upon the specific drug that has been uncovered. Based upon this classification potential punishments are assessed in accordance with applicable state statutes.
Schedule I controlled substances include a range of opiates and opiate derivatives, such as codeine, heroin, and morphine. Hallucinogenic substances like marijuana, mescaline, LSD, (psychedelic mushrooms) are also listed on Schedule I. The same is true of depressants GHB and mecloqualone, and certain lesser known stimulants.
Schedule II controlled substances also include opium and opiate derivatives, such as raw opium, codeine, methadone, and morphine, but also ones that don’t appear on Schedule I, such as hydrocodone, oxycodone (oxycontin), cocaine, opium poppy, and fentanyl. Schedule II stimulants are more commonly known and widespread, and include both amphetamine and methamphetamine. Schedule II depressants and hallucinogenic substances are of the more obscure variety, with the exception of phencyclidine (PCP).
In regard to the above referenced woman who became a fugitive of Florida legal authorities, her legal fate will now rest in accord with Florida legal statutes on the issue.
While driving under the influence of cocaine, the woman is alleged to have caused the death of the 82-year-old man. While I cannot speak to the potential punishment this woman is facing under applicable Florida law that undoubtedly differ from those in Indiana (Florida law governs because that is where the alleged crime occurred no matter what state an individual is ultimately apprehended within) the fact that the woman fled to Indiana rather than face the consequences in Florida will certainly not help her case.
The lesson to be learned is that not only are owi allegations able to be substantiated by virtue of drug ingestion alone, but that the potential legal ramifications may often prove to be more severe than had the allegations dealt with the use of alcohol alone. This I am confident will prove to be the case in Florida as in Indiana and all other states that address these issues within a criminal court of law.