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Drug Related DUI – Muscle Relaxers

Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence: Muscle Relaxers

Pill BottleDriving under the influence of a prescription drug, like muscle relaxers, is a criminal DUI offense, and the consequences can be just as serious as any other alcohol-related DUI charge. Here in Cincinnati, Ohio, these cases are typically called OVI offenses (standing for “operating a vehicle under the influence”). At The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A., we want to go over one of the more common types of prescription drug OVI charges: driving under the influence of a prescription muscle relaxant.


The Problem: Muscle Relaxants

Muscle relaxants aren’t so much a “type” of drug as they are a group of drugs that happen to have a similar side effect: sedation. Muscle relaxants act on the brain (rather than the muscles themselves) so it is not possible to target a specific area of the body. Instead, these drugs produce an overall “whole body” relaxation.

These drugs are commonly prescribed to treat pain in the neck and back, specifically to target muscle spasms in these areas. These drugs are even prescribed to treat severe migraines in certain cases. Most people aren’t aware that they’re experiencing a muscle spasm when it happens; they just know that they have severe lower back pain that can’t be alleviated with ibuprofen (Advil), or perhaps a migraine that no amount of acetaminophen (Tylenol) can fix.
As you can probably guess, muscle relaxants are prescribed quite often because they treat very common physical ailments when over-the-counter pain relievers aren’t enough.

There are three types of muscle relaxants that are prescribed most often:

  • Carisoprodol (Soma)
  • Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)
  • Diazepam (Valium)

Why Are Muscle Relaxants So Dangerous?

First, muscle relaxants aren’t exactly dangerous for the individuals who use them to treat severe pain. But when an individual gets behind the wheel of a car after taking a muscle relaxant, it can create a dangerous situation.

The first problem is that muscle relaxants create an overall effect of sedation on the body. Even though one specific area might be the reason why a muscle relaxant is prescribed, the medication will likely relax muscles throughout the entire body.

The second problem is that many people don’t realize they’re breaking the law by driving after legally consuming a muscle relaxant. For individuals who have a legitimate and lawful prescription, it is still illegal to operate a vehicle after consuming one of these drugs because they have been known to produce the side effect of sedation.

Ohio Laws: DUIs for Muscle Relaxants

Being pulled over under the suspicion of DUI or OVI—for a prescription drug you consume legally—might seem unfair at first. It can be even more complicated and frustrating when you don’t realize that you’re breaking the law by doing this. For individuals who have built up a tolerance to certain muscle relaxants, it isn’t easy for law enforcement officials to determine how much of the drug really “impairs” your ability to drive.

If you’ve been pulled over while driving and charged with a DUI or OVI for a muscle relaxant, contact the experienced DUI attorneys at The Farrish Law Firm., L.P.A., today. Our Cincinnati lawyers understand that Ohio OVI laws can be complex and frustrating, especially when it comes to prescription drugs. For more information about Ohio OVI laws, or to schedule a consultation with one of our Cincinnati DUI attorneys, call our office today.

Photo Credit: brensmithrex via Compfight cc