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Driving While Caffeinated—Is That a Thing?

Posted by Dan Kann | Jan 09, 2017 | 0 Comments

DUI and DWI are two criminal driving charges we write about a lot on our blog but have you ever heard of a DWC—driving while caffeinated? Well you have now! In a very interesting case out of Solano County back in 2015, an individual was charged with a DUI after cutting off an officer and driving erratically. The problem with the charge is that his results did not show any alcohol or other drugs in his system, just a lot of caffeine. Even his toxicology reports came back negative. That's one serious Starbucks trip!

The charge begs the question- can you get a driving under the influence charge in California for something other than drugs traditionally associated with impairment or alcohol? Technically, yes. DUI laws in California are intentionally inclusive to not only include illegal drugs, but legal ones too. For instance, you can get charged with a DUI for driving while under the influence of prescribed medication. Sure, the medication is prescribed to you but if it negatively impacts your driving then it can fall under the description of a DUI. The real question in this case is of course whether caffeine should be included in the definition of a California DUI. 

So what exactly does the prosecution need to prove in a California DUI case? Here's a look at the elements:

  • Probable Cause: Simply put—you cannot be pulled over for no reason. In some instances this reason is really obvious (i.e. swerving between lanes) and in others it is a minor issue (i.e. expired license plate tags). Once this probable cause has been established for both the stop and a possible DUI, the officer may ask the driver to take a field sobriety test if he or she exhibits signs of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Driving: Seems like a silly element to list but it is an important one that we have successfully argued in the past—the individual being charged with the DUI must actually be driving or be in some degree of control of the vehicle at the time of the offense.
  • Under the Influence For those adult drivers over the age of 21, the legal limit when it comes to alcohol is .08. There is no legal limit when it comes to drugs; or in the case of the overly caffeinated driver.

As you can see from the elements listed above, proving any California DUI case is much more than meets the eye. Which is good news if you have recently been charged with this very serious offense! If you are dealing with a Pasadena, Encino, Century City, Santa Clarita, or Ventura DUI charge, be sure to get in touch with the Kann California Defense Group as soon as possible to discuss your case and your defenses. Your first consultation with us is always on the house and designed to answer any and all questions you might have. We look forward to speaking with you!

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About the Author

Dan Kann

Daniel E. Kann has devoted his entire legal career exclusively to defending individuals facing criminal prosecution in Southern California. Dan fights criminal cases throughout Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.


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