At this point, nearly everyone has heard of the legendary golfer Tiger Woods being arrested for operating under the influence (OUI) in Florida. The incident, however, highlights two important things about OUI law – it applies to people who innocently take medications that can have serious side-effects, and that it can have draconian repercussions to people who have actually done nothing wrong.
The incident happened early in the morning of Memorial Day in Juipter, Florida. Police officers there found the former professional golfer asleep in his Mercedes Benz, which was improperly parked on the side of the road. After being woken up, Woods was groggy, had difficulty talking or interacting with the police, and was unable to pass any field sobriety tests. However, when he took a breathalyzer, he blew a 0.00%, confirming his claim that he hadn’t been drinking.
During the police stop, though, Woods admitted that he’d been taking prescription medications – presumably for a back surgery he’d had a month earlier – and that he was suffering from an unexpected reaction to them.
An important takeaway from Tiger Woods’ OUI situation is that prescription drugs – even if they are being taken according to doctor’s orders – can be the basis for an OUI charge. The OUI laws in many states, including the OUI law in Maine, prohibit driving while under the influence of any intoxicant. This includes any legally obtained drugs that you’re medically requires to take if they have an adverse reaction that impairs your ability to drive.
However, the most important lesson to be gleaned from Tiger Woods’ arrest for OUI is that innocent people who have done nothing wrong and who have hurt no one can, in theory, be arrested, charged, and convicted for OUI.
Let’s assume that Woods is telling the truth about his intoxication being the result of a reaction to his medications – something that is backed up by his breathalyzer results. If that were the case, then Woods would have followed doctor’s orders to deal with his back pain, gotten surprised by his reaction to the medicine while driving, and successfully pulled over to the side of the road without causing an accident. And yet he will still face a criminal charge for OUI.
Many people and politicians are focused on strengthening our country’s OUI laws to combat accidents involving drunk drivers. However, the harsher these laws become, they increasingly catch innocent people who have done nothing wrong and who have hurt no one. From the initial reports surrounding his arrest, Tiger Woods is just the most recent and prominent example.
William T. Bly is an OUI-defense attorney who represents those who have been charged with drunk or drugged driving in the state of Maine. If you’ve been arrested for OUI, contact his law office online or call him at (207) 571-8146 for vigorous legal defense.
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