Driving Under the Influence of….Caffeine?

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on December 27th, 2016

Just when you thought the "War on Drunk Driving" could not get any crazier…..


California Man Fights DUI Charge for Driving Under Influence of Caffeine

San Francisco, CA.  Dec. 24 - Caffeine may be the “nootropic” brain drug of choice in Silicon Valley, but an hour’s drive north in Solano County, California, the stimulant could get you charged with driving under the influence.

That is according to defense attorney Stacey Barrett, speaking on behalf of her client, Joseph Schwab.  After being pulled over on 5 August 2015, Schwab was charged by the Solano County district attorney with misdemeanor driving under the influence of a drug.

Almost 18 months later, Schwab is preparing to go to trial. The only evidence the DA has provided of his intoxication is a blood test showing the presence of caffeine.

Schwab was driving home from work when he was pulled over by an agent from the California department of alcoholic beverage control, who was driving an unmarked vehicle. The agent said Schwab had cut her off and was driving erratically.

The 36-year-old union glazier was given a breathalyzer test which showed a 0.00% blood alcohol level, his attorney said. He was booked into county jail and had his blood drawn, but the resulting toxicology report came back negative for benzodiazepines, cocaine, opiates, THC, carisoprodol (a muscle relaxant), methamphetamine/MDMA, oxycodone, and zolpidem…

“It’s really stupid,” said Jeffrey Zehnder, a forensic toxicologist who frequently testifies in court cases. Over 41 years, Zehnder said, he had never seen a prosecution for driving under the influence of caffeine…

California vehicle code defines a “drug” as any substance besides alcohol that could affect a person in a manner that would “impair, to an appreciable degree” his ability to drive normally.

Making that case with caffeine would be difficult, Zehnder said, because the prosecutor would have to show that impaired driving was specifically caused by the caffeine and not any other circumstances.

“There are no studies that demonstrate that driving is impaired by caffeine, and they don’t do the studies, because no one cares about caffeine,” he said.


So how could this case possibly have been filed by the prosecutor — not to mention an arrest to begin with?  And how could it possibly be going to trial?  Does the prosecution seriously believe that coffee is intoxicating?  Is law enforcement running out of drunk drivers to arrest?  Does Solano County government really need the money from fines that badly?

Or is there a simpler explanation?  Let’s take a second look at the story…..


Schwab was driving home from work when he was pulled over by an agent from the California department of alcoholic beverage control, who was driving an unmarked vehicle. The agent said Schwab had cut her off and was driving erratically.

 
Hmmm….Maybe the arresting "alcohol beverage control" agent was simply suffering from a case of "road rage" — and abused her legal authority?  But then why did the prosecutor file charges?  And why hasn’t the judge thrown the case out?  Why do we have 18 months of embarrassed silence?….
 

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