Friday, December 30, 2016

Can drinking too much coffee get you a DUI?

“Buzzed driving is drunk driving.” You’ve probably seen that PSA throughout the holiday season. For one man in Solano County, Calif., that almost included a caffeine buzz.

Recently, a story has been going viral claiming a man was pulled over by a California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control officer after nearly hitting the officer and weaving in and out of traffic. After sobriety field tests, the officer found the man “highly agitated, ‘amped up’ and with pupils that were dilated,” according to a Solano County District Attorney press release. The man was arrested for driving under the influence.

Blood tests revealed the man was on a stimulant: caffeine.

In fact, that was the only stimulant the blood test found. Additionally, the man had a blood alcohol content of 0.00. Surely, he was off the hook.

Except he wasn’t.

A deputy district attorney within the DUI unit decided to pursue the DUI charges despite the fact that TWO labs found ZERO traces of drugs other than caffeine. Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams told Land Line Now’s Reed Black that the deputy DA felt he could prove without reasonable doubt that the man was driving under the influence.

How?

Alcoholic Beverage Control officers are considered Drug Recognition Experts. Through her training and DRE credentials, the officer was convinced that the man was driving impaired. I’m speculating here, but perhaps the deputy DA felt expert opinion overrides scientific evidence?

Up until a few days ago, the case was still pending. Almost forgot an important detail: This happened in August … of last year! What’s with the delay?

Abrams told Land Line Now that she was unaware of the case until late last week after the media first started reporting on the case. She stated that the county receives about 10,000 cases each year, and in this case two separate labs were used for test results.

After reviewing the case, Abrams decided to drop the DUI charges. Unlike the deputy DA, she found that the county could not prove without reasonable doubt the man was driving impaired.

On Dec. 27, the DA sent out a press release stating the county is still investigating the case. The next day, the DA announced dismissal of DUI charges. Maybe this is coincidental, but this absurd case was in limbo for 16 months before the media picked up on it. Magically, the DUI charges were dropped just days after public outcry following media reports.

Without news media, situations like this go unnoticed, allowing governments to act unjustly and incompetently. The Fourth Estate hard at work.

Even though justice was finally served, I have more questions:
  • Why was this case sitting for nearly a year and a half?
  • What exactly was the deputy DA going to argue if this case continued?
  • What training do ABC officers receive to qualify them as DREs?
  • How much weight does the opinion of a DRE have in the courtroom?
  • How much coffee did this guy drink that day??? 

In August, I wrote a blog about a New Jersey law that could consider drinking coffee a driving distraction. I argued that although the law does not specifically name coffee as a distraction, the ambiguous language could allow an officer to pull someone over for drinking coffee, opening up a rabbit hole for abuse of power. Some people scoffed at that “slippery slope” logic.

Welp, here we are. Four months later I’m writing about a traffic violation based on coffee consumption and the letter of the law.

Sorry about the longwinded rant. I’m jacked on 30 ounces of coffee right now. Can someone drive me home? 

9 comments:

  1. Very good article and like I have always said when they can no longer get someone for a certain law then they invent phony rules, most cops are as crooked as they get and they have the little man syndrome never has any cop ever did anything for me except take my money

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cops are not as crooked as they get. Your blind insinuation of such is a slap in the face to all those officers who go out every day and put their lives on the line. They don't need jerks like you making their jobs more difficult.
      I have had several encounters with state, local, DOT cops and have never been treated disrespectfully, nor have they acted unprofessional. From your attitude, I bet you start with a hair across your ass asking for trouble. I've been driving for over 50 years, 30 years driving trucks, so it's not like I don't have the experience

      Delete
    2. I too have been driving truck for 30 years, and yes, some are as crooked as the day is long. Not just traffic cops, all divisions. Luckily, not all cops are bad, but those are the ones that make bad press and we remember most.

      Delete
  2. You are right there. They'll invent what they want. My husband was pulled over for over length, (bridge law)but in court the officer admitted we were under length. According to Michigan State DOT they use overlength for both. Had to hire an attorney to get it thrown out. Smh....never know what they'll come up with.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I get the feeling that this particular case had more to do with the fact that the guy was driving like a bat out of hell, and they wanted to throw the book at him.
    It's not good due process that it hung for over a year, nor is it plausible that they could run the whole case on caffeine, but I think we've all had moments when we see a driver acting like a crazy person and wish for a legit way to nail them down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the state of NH, any substance that impairs your ability to drive safely can get you a DUI. There have been lots of cases where OTC drugs have caused drivers to drive, as if they were intoxicated. NH write this law in this manner because of the many illegal drugs not in the present drug laws and because of situations where the person was legally impaired, but not for drugs in the law.
      And yes, it's unfortunate that some cops will take advantage of unsuspecting drivers. I'll bet he's done it before and fit away with it. So, the lesson is, know the laws, know your rig, follow the law, and don't cop an attitude.

      Delete
  4. Drivers drink too much coffee when they have to drive the truck late night. But, generally, drinking too much coffee is not recommended.

    Regards,
    Mantis Hugo
    Goji Berry Juice

    ReplyDelete
  5. How about just plain old reckless driving?

    ReplyDelete
  6. A component of reckless driving in most juristictions requires excessive speed. The penalty can be as severe as a DUI.

    ReplyDelete

Leave a comment here.