What Is A Drug Of Abuse DUI?

The law in Ohio prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs of abuse, and a combination of the two.  Drugs of abuse DUI charges are less common than alcohol and are more likely to happen to someone who did not know they were violating the law.

 Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 3719.011 defines controlled substances as used in the ORC.  These definitions are as follows:

 “Drug of abuse” means any controlled substance as defined in section 3719.01 of the Revised Code, any harmful intoxicant as defined in section 2925.01 of the Revised Code, and any dangerous drug as defined in section 4729.01 of the Revised Code.

You can see the potential for confusion when the definition itself refers to three other code sections and lists three new terms: controlled substance, harmful intoxicant, and dangerous drug.  We will look at each in turn.


ORC 3719.01 defines controlled substance in section C as a drug, compound, mixture, preparation, or substance included in schedule I, II, III, IV, or V.  Section BB tells us that schedule I-V are established in ORC  section 3719.41, as amended pursuant to section 3719.43 or 3719.44 of the Revised Code.

Section 3719.41 if fully reprinted here would need 34 pages.  In summary it includes the following: SCHEDULE I examples include but are not limited to: Heroin, LSD, Marihuana, Mescaline, Peyote, Hashish, and Salvia divinorum. 

SCHEDULE II examples include but are not limited to: Opium, Codeine, Hydrocodone, Morphine, Oxycodone, Fentanyl, Methadone, Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, and PCP.  SCHEDULE III examples include but are not limited to: Ketamine, Lysergic acid, Anabolic steroids, and Testosterone.

SCHEDULE IV examples include but are not limited to: Alprazolam, Barbital, Clonazepam, Diazepam, Lorazepam, Nitrazepam, Nordiazepam, Phenobarbital, and Phentermine.  SCHEDULE V examples include but are not limited to: Ephedrine, except as provided in division (K) of section 3719.44 of the Revised Code, and various other drugs in compound form.


Next we can look at ORC 2925.01 where it defines harmful intoxicants. Harmful intoxicant does not include beer or intoxicating liquor but means any of the following:

Any compound, mixture, preparation, or substance the gas, fumes, or vapor of which when inhaled can induce intoxication, excitement, giddiness, irrational behavior, depression, stupefaction, paralysis, unconsciousness, asphyxiation, or other harmful physiological effects, and includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:

Any volatile organic solvent, plastic cement, model cement, fingernail polish remover, lacquer thinner, cleaning fluid, gasoline, or other preparation containing a volatile organic solvent; any aerosol propellant; any fluorocarbon refrigerant; any anesthetic gas, Gamma Butyrolactone; 1,4 Butanediol.


Finally, the last drug of abuse category is dangerous drugs as defined in section 4729.01 of the ORC.  This says that a dangerous drug is any of the following:

Drugs listed in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that is required to bear a label containing the legend “Caution: Federal law prohibits dispensing without prescription” or “Caution: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian” or any similar restrictive statement, or the drug may be dispensed only upon a prescription;

Drugs may be dispensed only upon a prescription, any drug that contains a schedule V controlled substance and that is exempt from Chapter 3719 of the Revised Code, or to which that chapter does not apply; any drug intended for administration by injection into the human body other than through a natural orifice of the human body.

The term drug of abuse can include a broad spectrum of substances.  Not all of them are readily identifiable as something that can subject you to a DUI. 

Everyone knows if you do 20 lines of coke and drive that you can get a DUI.  Less well know is that prescription medication, even if taken as directed, can expose you to a DUI. 

And lastly, and most surprisingly, is that exposure to fumes or vapor from cleaning fluids, even if it happens in the course and scope of your employment, can cause you to become impaired and have exposure to a DUI.

And remember, if you or a family member has been arrested for DUI in the Cincinnati Area – including: Hamilton, Butler, Warren, Clermont, Montgomery, and Greene Counties – call me, Robert Healey, or one of my associates at 513.333.0014.  We are available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.  Because now is the perfect time to put a team that includes a FORMER POLICE OFFICER and TWO FORMER PROSECUTORS to work….for you!

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