Cedar Rapids OWI Lawyer: prescription as complete defense to OWI charge

February 21, 2018


In Iowa, a motorist may raise a “prescription drug defense” if they have taken only a prescription drug “in accordance with the directions of a medical practitioner” or if “the substance was dispensed by a pharmacist without a prescription pursuant to the rules of the board of pharmacy” if:


  1. There is no evidence of the consumption of alcohol; and

  2. The medical practitioner or pharmacist had not directed the person to refrain from operating a motor vehicle.

In other words, if someone is exclusively under the influence of a prescription drug and operation of a motor vehicle is not contraindicated by the doctor or pharmacist, the defendant may present at trial a complete defense to the charge of OWI.


Note, however, that mixing alcohol with the prescription drug regardless of medical instructions bars the defense. In other words, a defendant is not allowed to present as a complete defense against prosecution for drunk driving the prescription of a drug that merely recommends alcohol consumption be moderated or monitored—if there is alcohol present, the defense cannot apply as a matter of Iowa law.


If you or a loved one have been arrested for OWI in Cedar Rapids or other Iowa community, contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC for a free intial consultation. However, remember that a blog is not legal advice and that sending unsolicited information to a lawyer over the Internet does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

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