OK Lawmaker Calls For Study On Driving Under Influence Of Prescription Drugs

Tuesday, July 17th 2012, 7:09 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

Prescription drug abuse is a big problem here in Oklahoma, and many who use them are out driving on roads and highways under the influence.

But one Oklahoma Lawmaker says most aren't tested for drugs or prosecuted. He wants that changed.

It all starts with an interim study of how many people are actually driving on Oklahoma roads under the influence of drugs.

"We know under the present DUI laws if law enforcement has a suspicion that they're under the influence that would require a blood test," said Rep. Richard Morrissette (D) Oklahoma City, who asked for the study. "But it rarely happens and there's nothing that requires it to happen."

Morrissette says in 2009, the latest data available, there were 521 fatal accidents in Oklahoma, and in only 50 cases was anyone tested for drug use.

"I would suspect there's a whole lot more of those people than 50 that are under the influence," Rep. Morrissette said.

"With the amount of narcotics people take, it's very frightening," agreed Dani Lynch, D. Ph. who runs Thrifty Pharmacy.

Lynch says some people may innocently not heed the warnings on the prescription bottles but more are addicted and don't realize it's still dangerous to drive.

"It depresses your central nervous system, your reaction time is not as good, your decision making is not as good, it's like being under the influence of alcohol," Lynch said.

But unlike alcohol, there is no legal limit of drugs that you can have in your system and still drive.

Morrissette will be calling experts to testify on that as well to help shape future legislation.

Seventeen states have laws limiting the amount of prescription drugs you can have in your system and still drive.