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August 2011 Archives

What is the Difference Between DUI, DWI and OVI?

In Kentucky the offense is officially DUI under KRS 189A.010. DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence and a person can be convicted for DUI while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Indiana law cites OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) wherein Ohio law the charge is OVI (Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated). Generally DWI is shorthand for Driving While Intoxicated. In short, the names are simply shorthand for what the legislature has chosen to call the charge. In effect, all charges are of the same thing, but with different names. All charges in each state have similar penalties whether you are impaired by drugs, alcohol or a combination of the two. Over the past few years, there has been a marked increase in the prosecution of DUI cases involving prescription medication (Rx). The prescription medicine can severely impair a person's ability to operate a motor vehicle. While this may be obvious, especially if the prescription has a warning label about driving or operating heavy machinery, a combination of various prescriptions can have an equal effect on the driver. It is important to know that whether the drugs are prescribed, over the counter (OTC) or illegal, that you can still be convicted of DUI. Many cases involve a prescription drug in combination with some amount of alcohol. Those charged may, and often do, argue that their blood alcohol content was below the legal limit. This makes the case more defensible, however a combination of drugs and alcohol can render a person impaired, which is the standard for a DUI arrest and conviction. If you have been charged with DUI or OVI in Northern Kentucky or Cincinnati, contact Michael Bouldin at mwbouldin@fuse.net or call the office at 859-581-6453 (581-MIKE) for a consultation. You should be apprised of your rights before appearing in court on these serious charges.

KASPER Expands!

Yes, if you read the Enquirer this week you will know that KASPER, the Kentucky prescription reporting, has now expanded to Indiana and Ohio. Pharmacists and physicians in the three states will soon, if not now, have access to all prescription history for a patient in all three states. The idea is to prevent Rx pill shopping and patients from receiving multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors for the same thing (pain). This can also be used to initiate criminal prosecution. It will be interesting to see if this results in an increase in prosecution and whether the state or federal authorities will undertake prosecution. It is illegal in each state to obtain prescription by fraud; which is generally determined to include not telling your doctor the full truth about other prescriptions. Interestingly, very few doctors want to become involved in criminal prosecution - likely due to the time involved for which they are not compensated. Most physicians simply discharge the patient. Pharmacists, however, not only do not fill the prescription, but often inform the authorities if they suspect pill shopping. Most prosecutions to date have occurred at the state level and it is expected this will continue. That said, with the interstate compact between Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, this may change. One interesting defense is the HIPPA laws that prevent the disclosure of a patient's medical records. Prescription drugs are certainly considered part of the patient's records. It will be interesting to see how the courts determine the state law and their desire for disclosure versus the federal law prohibiting the same. Are the states violating federal HIPPA laws? Do the states have immunity? All of this is to be determined. Moreover, most would argue that this is, if nothing else, an invasion of privacy. Patients are becoming more distraught once they are discharged from their doctor. Especially those with chronic pain, those patients are finding it difficult to find another physician who will treat them and prescribe medication. As a criminal defense attorney, I have defended these types of cases from those that are guilty as well as those that are innocent.

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