When you go out for a night of fun with your friends, you never expect that someone will spike your drink and put you in danger of getting a DUI. But unfortunately, this happens more often than you might think. If you are ever in this situation, it is important to know what steps to take to protect yourself. Keep reading for more information on how to deal with being drugged and the potential consequences you could face.
Can You Be Arrested for DUI When Someone Drugs Your Drink?
Although you can get arrested for DUI if someone drugs your drink, there are ways to challenge the charge and fight the case. It does not make the news very often, because the victim might not be able to prove who spiked the drink, but date rape drugs are used more often than you might realize. It is bad enough when someone spikes your drink and possibly attempts a sexual assault. You should not also have to face criminal charges when you were the victim of a crime.
If someone slips a drug into your drink, your criminal defense attorney can fight the charges. Your lawyer will need to perform a thorough investigation and gather evidence to support your claim of the introduction of an illegal substance into your beverage.
“Someone Spiked My Drinks.” Is This a Good DUI Defense?
When someone spikes your drinks without your knowledge, you might become involuntarily intoxicated. This is a rare defense, but if you do not have previous alcohol-related arrests or convictions and you can find strong evidence to support your position that you did not intend to consume the quantity of alcohol that you did, it might be worthwhile to raise involuntary intoxication as a DUI defense.
Even if the charges do not get dismissed, your California DUI attorney could use the argument to negotiate with the prosecutor. An example of spiking a drink with alcohol is when a person orders a drink, consumes some of it, and when they are not looking, someone else pours more alcohol into the beverage. If they use the same type of alcohol or a flavorless alcohol like vodka or grain alcohol, there might not be a noticeable change in the taste of the drink.
After consuming the beverage, the victim might think they are safe to drive home, not realizing that they consumed significantly more alcohol than they intended or realized. The additional alcohol could cause the person’s blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) to be much higher than expected, and take them over the legal limit, resulting in DUI criminal charges.
Can You Use Involuntary Intoxication as a Defense to a DUI?
Involuntary intoxication refers to a situation in which a person does not choose or intend to consume alcohol or drugs, but they are forced or tricked into doing so. A college student might get held down while others pour alcohol down his throat as a part of a hazing event. Another person might consume desserts that they do not realize contain alcohol.
When a person does not intentionally become intoxicated, they might argue the lack of knowingly or willingly consuming alcohol as a DUI defense. These cases are extremely difficult to win, but if your facts and evidence support this defense, an experienced California DUI attorney could argue this defense on your behalf.
Some examples of evidence that could be useful in an involuntary intoxication defense to DUI charges include:
- Testimony from other individuals that the person who introduced the intoxicating substance did so as a prank, a hazing practice, or for some other reason;
- Video evidence that clearly shows a substance being introduced into the DUI defendant’s drink; and
- Eyewitness testimony of someone who saw the drink getting spiked.
Depending on the fact pattern of your situation, there might be additional evidence that could be helpful in the successful use of a defense of involuntary intoxication.
Voluntary & Involuntary Intoxication as a Defense Under Criminal Law
As already stated, when someone consumes a drink or other item and does not realize that it contains alcohol, they might have the defense of involuntary intoxication. Whether you are facing DUI charges or some other criminal charges, a credible situation of involuntary intoxication can be a complete defense.
Also, when someone uses trickery or force to get you to consume an intoxicating substance, whether you are aware of the alcohol or drugs or not, the lack of knowingly or willingly using the substance can be a complete defense.
The vast majority of DUI cases involve people who knowingly or intentionally ingest intoxicating substances. Voluntary intoxication is not a defense in a DUI case, but it can be a defense in other types of crime which require specific intent. For specific intent crimes, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant intended to actually do the illegal act they are charged for. Driving under the influence is a general intent crime, which means that the defendant did not have to intend to engage in drunk driving.
Involuntary Intoxication and DUI
You might be able to raise the defense of involuntary intoxication when charged with a DUI if you can show that you did not knowingly or willingly consume drugs or alcohol. You cannot escape DUI charges on an argument that you did not intend to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The involuntary intoxication defense is not successful on a general intent crime like DUIs if you voluntarily and knowingly drank alcohol.
The involuntary intoxication defense tends to be more successful in cases where the defendant can prove that they could not detect the additional alcohol due to its lack of odor and taste or the fact that someone added more of the same kind of alcohol that was already in the drink. Still, alcohol-related charges are difficult to beat with the involuntary intoxication defense. This defense tends to be more successful in cases in which someone slipped a drug, like a date rape drug, into another person’s beverage. However, each person’s case will vary, which is why it is important to speak with an experienced DUI attorney about your case.
Date Rape Drugs and Driving
So many people are using date rape drugs to perpetrate sexual assaults that West Hollywood, California, has approved a plan to buy and give away testing kits for people to use to check their drinks for date rape drugs. The West Hollywood City Council wants to lower the number of sexual assaults by giving people test strips that can detect ketamine and GHB, two of the common date rape drugs.
This news story shows the prevalence of individuals spiking other peoples’ alcoholic beverages with date rape drugs. After a person drinks a beverage that has been spiked with date rape drugs, the victim might appear to be intoxicated, leading to a DUI arrest. Although the person might have a low BAC rating on a breathalyzer test, chemical testing of a blood sample could reveal the presence of a date rape drug.
Involuntary Intoxication Is a Rarely Used Defense in DUI Cases
Because involuntary intoxication presents so many challenging evidentiary problems, people rarely use it as a defense in DUI cases. Often, the arrested individual is surprised by their BAC reading being much higher than they expected, but it does not occur to them that someone might have spiked their drink with additional drugs or alcohol.
Also, people are not always aware that someone slipped something into their beverage. They might feel a little woozy but suspect that it was from drinking on an empty stomach or some other reason. Thus, people in these situations might not explore the possibility of involuntary intoxication as a defense to their DUI charges.
When Can Involuntary Intoxication Work as a Defense?
When it comes to having your drink spiked with additional alcohol or a non-alcoholic drink spiked with alcohol, it takes some unusual circumstances to win on the defense of involuntary intoxication. If you can obtain video footage of the individual spiking your drink, your criminal defense attorney might be successful in fighting DUI charges.
Arguing that one is involuntarily intoxicated is more successful when the substance the person used to spike the other individual’s drink was an intoxicating drug. It would be extremely unlikely for anyone to spike their own drink with a date rape drug. Thus, the mere presence of ketamine or GHB in a person’s drink that they consumed would support an argument of involuntary intoxication by their criminal defense counsel.
How Do Prosecutors Determine BAC at the Time of Driving?
A person’s blood alcohol content will change over time. Whether you use a breathalyzer or test the person’s blood sample or urine sample, the results will be very different with samples collected just a few hours apart. Eventually, the presence of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream will dissipate entirely.
Sometimes, a prosecutor will have a toxicologist testify about a driver’s BAC at the time of driving. This strategy can also be useful for the defense, who can use testimony from a toxicologist.
Logistically speaking, a person’s BAC does not get tested while they are driving. Chemical testing of the blood, breath, or urine always happens after the suspect stops driving. Sometimes, a prosecutor might attempt to extrapolate in reverse to try to show that a driver had an illegal blood alcohol concentration level at the time of driving.
California Law on Driving Under the Influence
Under California Vehicle Code 23152, a person can get charged with a DUI offense for:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol, meaning that you cannot drive as well as a sober person because the quantity of alcohol has impaired your mental or physical abilities;
- Having a BAC of 0.08% or higher;
- Driving under the influence of any legal, illegal, or prescription drugs, controlled substance, over-the-counter drug, or any other substance; and
- Driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs.
Someone who drives a motor vehicle after their drink gets spiked with alcohol or other drugs by someone else could get arrested and charged with a DUI under the California Penal Code. Beating the criminal charges in these cases is extraordinarily difficult.
Don’t Attempt a Criminal Defense on Your Own
The consequences of getting a DUI conviction could haunt you for the rest of your life. You could face jail time, a criminal record, and other negative consequences if found guilty of a DUI charge. You will want to talk to a California criminal defense lawyer to mount an aggressive defense to the charges. Talk to one of our highly qualified California DUI attorneys to discuss your defense strategy by reaching out to us here.