Tiger Woods was arrested on May 29, 2017 in Jupiter, Florida for DUI (called “OVI” in Ohio). He issued a statement in which he said, “I want the public to know alcohol was not involved. What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications.” DUI / OVI cases in Ohio involving drugs are increasingly dramatically, and Tiger Woods’ situation puts a spotlight on this growing problem.
Medications Can Impair Driving Ability
At approximately 3:00 AM, a police officer found Tiger Woods asleep at the wheel of his vehicle. The car was partially parked on the side of the road, but the engine was running. When the officer approached, he noticed that Tiger’s speech was slurred and he was sluggish. Tiger informed the officer that he was going to Orange County from Los Angeles. He was in Jupiter, Florida.
The officer had Tiger exit his vehicle and he exhibited a very unsteady gait. Field sobriety tests were administered, and Tiger performed poorly. Woods was arrested for DUI, but his breath test showed a BAC level of 0.00. However, his speech and coordination were consistent with being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The dash camera video and police station video can be viewed online. Woods told the officer that he had taken prescription medications, but had not been drinking alcohol.
Woods had a valid prescription for pain medications due to chronic back pain. However, Woods did not believe that the medications were impair his ability to drive.
Drug Recognition Experts (DRE’s)
Prescription medication can impair driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) created a program whereby law enforcement officers can become Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). These officers are taught to conduct certain tests that can allegedly determine if a driver is impaired by prescription and non-prescribed drugs.
While the DRE program is subject to criticism (my firm calls it “voodoo and witchcraft”), it is relied upon frequently by officers who believe that a driver is impaired, but the officer does not detect any evidence of alcohol. While the program is poorly designed, the reality of drug impaired driving cannot be denied.
In 2017, a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that more fatal car accidents involved a person with drugs in their system than alcohol. The report also found that out of all DUI arrests in the United States, 41% tested positive for a drug, and 51% had a BAC of 0.08 or more.
Drugged Driving is a Difficult Issue in Ohio
Unlike alcohol, where the effects are largely understood, there are numerous of drugs that may impair a person’s driving ability and each drug can affect people differently. Moreover, drug impairment is harder to detect than alcohol impairment.
While Tiger Woods’ arrest certainly brought national attention to this growing problem, and drivers need to know how their medications affect them before driving, allowing officers to use questionable training and science to investigate DUI / OVI can result in the prosecution of sober drivers who fit a certain profile.
Columbus and Delaware, Ohio DUI / OVI Attorney
If you have been charged with DUI / OVI in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, contact Johnson Legal, LLC and speak with an experienced Columbus and Delaware, Ohio DUI / OVI attorney. Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC will discuss your case and assist you in fighting the charges. Call (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation regarding your DUI / OVI case.
Johnson Legal, LLC serves the following cities in the central Ohio area for DUI / OVI Defense:
Westerville, Worthington, Columbus, Polaris, Reynoldsburg, Grandview Heights, Shawnee Hills, Bexley, Pickerington, Gahanna, Sunbury, Powell, Upper Arlington, New Albany, Dublin, Hilliard, Lewis Center, Galena, Clintonville, Huber Ridge, Blacklick, Grove City, Delaware, Marysville, Groveport, Newark, Canal Winchester, Obetz, Marion, Mt. Gilead, Pataskala, Granville, Whitehall, Franklin County, Morrow County, Licking County, Union County, Madison County and Delaware County