Man Charged with a DUI Caused by Caffeine

Jan 04, 2017

When most people think of driving under the influence or DUI, they think about drunk driving or perhaps getting behind the wheel while using some illegal drug such as cocaine. But Joseph Schwab, a Solano County man, was pulled over for allegedly driving erratically and cutting off an agent from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, according to the UK Guardian. However, a breathalyzer test showed that Schwab had zero alcohol in his system. A subsequent blood test failed to demonstrate the presence of any recreational or prescription drug. It did show that Schwab had caffeine in his system. He was, subsequently, charged with DUI.
For nearly 16 months, the Solano County District Attorney's office prosecuted Schwab for driving under the influence, despite the chemical tests showing only the presence of caffeine.  Recently, the DA made the decision to dismiss the DUI charge; however, Schwab still remains charged with reckless driving.  This case highlights the ambiguity and danger that comes with DUI enforcement.  Many of our clients have been charged with having prescription drugs in their system and don't realize that these "legal" drugs can lead to a DUI charge.  In, fact, attorney Michael Mitchell previously used over the counter diphenhydramine which was in the system of a deceased accident victim, to show that his client, a commercial truck driver, was not at fault in causing a fatal accident. This tactic helped save his client' s license and career.
California law is not specific about which drug a person has to have taken to be charged with a DUI, only that it would “impair, to an appreciable degree” the ability to drive. However, no studies exist to suggest that caffeine reduces capacity to drive. Despite lack of empirical evidence, prosecutions for dubious drug impairment will, most likely, only rise in the future. 
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Category: DUID Defense

Michael Mitchell

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Michael Mitchell is a Fresno attorney who practices in the areas of DUI, personal injury & criminal law. Visit his Google+ profile.