There is no shortage of DUI cases that feature drunk or high drivers. While alcohol and drugs clearly affect a person’s ability to drive safely, however, the California courts were recently faced with the case of local man Joseph Schwab, who was charged for operating a car under the influence of caffeine.
While it may sound odd, could indulging in too much espresso make a person ineligible to drive?
Pulled over for Erratic Driving
On August 5, 2015, an agent from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control pulled over Schwab for driving an unmarked vehicle. According to the reports, Schwab was driving erratically as he weaved in and out of traffic. The agent even described him as “very agitated and combative.”
Schwab was administered a breathalyzer test which showed a 0.00% blood alcohol level. After the test, he took an addiction toxicology test in a county jail. Oddly enough, the charges still stood after Schwab’s blood sample tested negative for cocaine, opiates, THC, MDMA, oxycodone, and zolpidem.
District Attorney's Office Drop Charges
The California code defines a drug as “any substance besides alcohol that could affect a person in a manner that would “impair, to an appreciable degree.” According to Jeffrey Zehnder, a forensic toxicologist, the charges are problematic, as there is no precedent of anyone being prosecuted for a caffeine DUI.
Although the Defense Attorney’s office arranged to have the charges dismissed, the case opened up talks about the dangers of DUI and how it increases the risk of car accidents and vehicular deaths. This led DUI attorneys in the area to review their strategy when dealing with such cases.
In spite of the caffeine DUI charges, drinking coffee does not necessarily impair a person’s ability to drive. The more pressing threat that the authorities should be concerned about are drivers who commit DUI as a result of alcohol or drugs.