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Driving under the influence of caffeine?

When ascertaining one's sobriety, law enforcement officers are typically not checking for the influence of things like sugar or caffeine. However, one case of drunk driving in California reportedly involved no alcohol but caffeine instead.

A 36-year-old man was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence in Aug. 2015 when he allegedly cut off an officer from the department of alcoholic beverage control and was driving erratically. The man was given a Breathalyzer test, and his blood-alcohol concentration level measured at zero percent. A toxicology test revealed no illicit drugs in the man's system, and a secondary test showed only caffeine was present when the incident occurred.

Ingesting caffeine is legal, but one could hypothetically make a case that someone on caffeine is impaired in California. This is because a substance could be considered a drug if it alters someone and disrupts his or her ability to drive normally. However, actually getting a conviction in this case may be difficult as no studies show that caffeine impairs driving. While some might find this interesting to consider, the man in this case only wants his name cleared. A Solano County deputy district attorney said that this case was still being investigated, and a motion to have the case dismissed was denied.

There are likely not many cases like this one, but this unusual event shows how serious a DUI charge can be. Even if one is not under the influence of alcohol, legal substances like prescriptions could create a false positive or questions might arise about the effect prescriptions have on a person. One may need to consult an attorney as a drunk driving case could be more complex than it appears.

Source: The Guardian, "California man fights DUI charge for driving under influence of caffeine", Julia Carrie Wong, 12/26/2016

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