Are you facing DUI charges of any kind such as alcohol induced DUI, Xanax DUI, Opioid DUI, marijuana DUI, cocaine DUI or over the counter medication DUI? If so, you stand to lose a lot if convicted. Our team of DUI attorneys can help you through this difficult time. Consuming alcohol is a very common activity at colleges and universities even though it is illegal to consume alcohol under the age of 21. Many times after indulging in alcohol you may decide to operate a motor vehicle. Not only is this incredibly dangerous as someone could get hurt or killed in an accident but it is also illegal. If you are are caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol you can be arrested. As a college student a DUI arrest, DWI arrest or OUI arrest (no matter where in the country you are facing charges) will most likely impact your academic status and can quickly become very expensive and complicated legally. If you have been charged with DUI in any state such as Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington DC or Puerto Rico you need the help of our DUI attorneys.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to our DUI attorneys and DWI defense lawyers regarding your pending DUI charges. They can be reached via email here. By retaining our skilled DUI attorneys you will feel better knowing that your rights will be protected. Our network of DUI attorneys serve those facing DUI, DWI, OUI, OVI and all other types of driving while impaired charges across the country. This includes Delaware, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, California, Massachusetts, Texas, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia and Virginia.
Alcohol Related Crimes Our DUI Attorneys Handle
Please do not wait to contact our OUI defense attorneys immediately should you, or your child, need any of the following:
Maryland DUI Attorneys
MD Lawyer Handling Driving Under the Influence Cases
Felony DUI Attorneys
DWI Defense Lawyers in Maryland
These are just some of the DUI, DWI, OUI & OVI cases we have handled over the years. There are dozens of other types as each DUI case is different from all others due to the previous DUI & criminal record of the person facing charges, age of the person arrested, what impaired your driving ability (alcohol or drugs and if drugs, what drug(s) were you on), where/how you were arrested, how you behaved once pulled over, your BAC level and who was in the car with you at the time of arrest. No matter what type of DUI charges you are facing our Waldorf, Maryland DUI defense attorneys can help.
Signs Of Alcohol Use In DUI Traffic Stop
The main sign is an alcoholic odor on the breath. Intoxication/drunkenness. Difficulty focusing: glazed appearance of the eyes. Uncharacteristically passive behavior or combative and argumentative behavior. Gradual decline in personal appearance and hygiene. Gradual development of difficulties, especially in schoolwork or job performance. Absenteeism (particularly on Monday). Unexplained bruises and accidents. Irritability. Flushed skin. Loss of memory (blackouts). Availability and consumption of alcohol becomes the focus of social activities. Changes in peer-group associations and friendships. Impaired interpersonal relationships (unexplainable termination of relationships, and separation from close family members).
DUI Defense Strategies Our DUI Attorneys Can Use
A DUI, DWI or OUI in most states can be deemed either a misdemeanor or a felony (s0me states do not have felony DUI laws). That typically depends on your previous DUI and criminal records and the circumstance surrounding your DUI. Regardless, if convicted you will face fines, court costs, attorney’s fees, possible jail time and possible expulsion from school. In some cases your charges may be able to be dismissed or lessened. Again, that has to do with the exact circumstances of your DUI arrest. By retaining our DUI defense attorneys you will be assured that your rights are protected throughout the entire legal process. Enlisting the aid of an experienced DWI defense attorney will ideally help your case by achieving the best possible outcome.
Difference Between DUI, DWI & OUI
The term DUI is an acronym for driving under the influence. DWI stands for driving while intoxicated, or in some cases, driving while impaired. The terms can have different meanings or they can refer to the same offense, depending on the state where you are facing charges.
In any case, they mean that a driver is being charged with a serious offense that risked the health and safety of himself and others. They can apply not only to alcohol or recreational drugs but also to driving when your prescription drugs impair your abilities.
State Definitions Differ for DUI, DWI, OUI, OVI & OWI
Depending on state law, the two terms are both used to describe impaired or drunken driving. Some state laws refer to the offense of drunken driving as DUI others call it DWI and still others term it an OUI or OVI.
It gets tricky when states use both terms, applying one to alcohol and the other to impairment by drugs or an unknown substance. The meaning can flip flop from state to state. In some states, DWI refers to driving while intoxicated of alcohol with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit, while DUI is used when the driver is charged with being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In other states where both terms are used, DWI means driving while impaired (by drugs, alcohol or some unknown substance), while DUI mean driving under the influence of alcohol. You have to check the definitions state by state.
There are other acronyms for drunk driving. Operating under the influence, abbreviated OUI, is used in only three states: Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The “operating” distinction encompasses more than just driving the vehicle. Even if the vehicle is stopped and not running, someone can be charged with operating under the influence.
Driving While Impaired
Any of these charges mean the arresting officer has reason to believe the driver is too impaired to continue to drive. In some jurisdictions, drivers can be charged with impaired driving (or driving under the influence) even if they do not meet the blood alcohol concentration levels for legal intoxication.
For example, if you fail a field sobriety test or otherwise show signs of impairment, you can be charged with driving while impaired even if your blood-alcohol concentration is under the legal limit of 0.08.
Drugged Driving Is Impaired Driving
If you appear to be impaired to the arresting officer, but your breathalyzer test shows that you are not under the influence of alcohol, the officer can call a Drug Recognition Expert to the scene to determine if you are under the influence drugs. Common street drugs involved in DUI’s are: marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, crystal meth, bath salts, designer drugs and synthetic drugs.
If the DRE officer’s multi-step evaluation process determines that you are indeed under the influence of drugs, you can be charged with DWI or DUI, depending on what the state you are in calls the offense of drugged driving. You have to be responsible when taking prescription or nonprescription medications that can impair your driving ability, and you are at risk for these charges even when not drinking alcohol.
After an Impaired Driving Arrest
No matter what the offense is called in your jurisdiction—DUI, DWI or OUI—if you are arrested for drunk driving, driving under the influence, or driving while intoxicated, you will be facing serious consequences. Reach out to our Las Vegas, Nevada DUI attorneys for a free case review.
If you are convicted or plead guilty of drunk driving, you will probably lose your driver’s license and pay fines and court fees; if it’s a second offense, you may spend some time in jail. You will probably be placed on probation and perform community service. To get your driver’s license back, you will probably have to attend defensive driving classes. Our Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania DUI attorneys will help you get your drivers license back as soon as possible.
In most states, you will also probably undergo an evaluation of your drinking patterns and based on the results of that evaluation, you may have to take part in an alcohol treatment program. That program could range from attending a few Alcoholics Anonymous or other support-group meetings to entering a residential treatment facility. Our Rockville, Maryland DUI attorneys can help you get into the in lieu of jail programs in your area.
Aggravating Factors In DUI, DWI, OUI & OWI Cases
A typical driving under the influence (DUI) charge, where your blood alcohol content is at .08 or higher, already carries severe penalties even though they are misdemeanors. While that is bad enough many situations can result in enhanced penalties for DUI or DWI that go well beyond the sentences normally imposed after a DUI conviction. The presence of certain aggravating factors in a DUI case can result in enhanced penalties by either increasing the range of potential sentences or by raising the actual charge to a higher level such as a felony. Enhanced penalties, which are referred to as aggravating factors in many states, will vary based on the circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest as well as the state you were arrested in. Our Dover, Delaware DUI attorneys will explain your rights to you and devise the best possible plea or defense based on your case.
Below are some possible scenarios that could lead to an aggravated DUI charge with enhanced penalties. The factors and what they do to your DUI penalties vary by state and it is important for defendants facing DUI charges to look closely at the law of the state that has brought the charges.
Excessively High Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)
States all set a legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) – usually .08%. The law presumes that anyone who is caught driving with a BAC over the legal limit has committed DUI.
When tests reveal that a suspected DUI driver has a BAC that is extremely high (usually two or more times the legal limit, depending on the state), the crime moves into the realm of an aggravated DUI. Also known in this instance as an “extreme DUI,” the offense carries the possibility of greater prison terms and higher fines. This is one of the most common compounding circumstances in a DUI. Do not worry as our Myrtle Beach, South Carolina DUI attorneys handle them routinely.
Driving With Children In The Vehicle
The presence of minors in the vehicle at the time of a DUI arrest can also result in an aggravated DUI. States have different age ranges for the minor that will trigger enhanced DUI penalties, though. For example, some states require that the minor in the vehicle be younger than 16, while others set the maximum age for the minor at 12. Some states also increase the penalties for a DUI conviction if the offense occurs in a school zone, regardless of whether children were present in the car. A DUI with a child endangerment charge tacked onto it is by far one of the most serious types of DUI cases. The prosecutor and judge are not going to take it lightly and neither should you. Let our Newport Beach, California DUI attorneys help you.
Prior DUI Convictions
Courts also will hand down elevated sentences if the driver has had multiple DUI convictions, sometimes even when one or more of the multiple convictions occurred in another state or states. States give harsher punishments to repeat offenders in order to discourage people from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol after their first DUI conviction. States have different systems for penalizing repeat offenders, so DUI defendants should check their particular state’s law or consult with our experienced Bethel Park, Pennsylvania DUI attorneys for more information.
Driving With Suspended or Revoked License
Aggravated DUI charges can also result when a DUI defendant is caught driving on a suspended or revoked license. Penalties for this situation increase because the defendant has shown a blatant disregard for the law by driving on a suspended or revoked license.
Driving At An Excessive Rate of Speed
A state can charge a DUI defendant with excessive speed in addition to DUI. In some states, if a person exceeds the speed limit by a certain amount, it may also result in an aggravated DUI (or DWI) charge. For example, if police measured a DUI defendant driving 30 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, the defendant could face a much higher sentence than they would if they had driven 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.
DUI Resulting In Injury Or Death
DUI laws are in place to keep the roads safe. If you are even slightly intoxicated and your actions result in someone being hurt, injured or killed all bets are off. You had better retain the best possible DUI attorney as this is incredibly serious and jail time is definitely in your future.
Having Drugs In The Car At Time Of Arrest
These days drugged driving charges are very common. Many go unnoticed as many drugs are unable to be detected without a blood sample or obvious intoxication. Alcohol and drug use go hand in hand. If you are pulled over for possible DUI and are caught with drugs in the car, drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, unprescribed Vicodin, Xanax, Percocet or other medications you are looking at drug possession charges in addition to the DUI charge. Again, having a skilled DUI defense attorney on your side is imperative to obtaining the best possible outcome for your case.
Ongoing Expense and Effects of a DUI or DWI Conviction
When you get your driver’s license back, you will find that you will also need SR-22 insurance, which could double or triple your premiums, depending on the laws in your state. You will probably have to pay the higher premiums for three years.
Also, depending on the state in which you reside, you may have to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle, which will require you to pay for the device, the installation, and a monthly monitoring fee.
The bottom line is getting arrested for driving under the influence is a time-consuming and very expensive ordeal, but it is 100 percent avoidable. Just don’t get behind the wheel while you are drinking.
You can protect your health and safety as well as that of others by never driving after drinking any amount of alcohol. Your abilities will be impaired even if your blood alcohol content is below the legal limit. If you are taking any prescription or non-prescribed drugs that carry a warning of impaired driving, it’s best not to get behind the wheel. The laws are in place to keep you and everyone else healthy and safe.
DUI Arrests & Probable Cause Laws
All states have probable cause laws. Reasons you can be pulled over that may not constitute probable cause can be:
Drifting Into Other Lanes
Driving 10 Or More MPH Below Speed Limit
Driving On Center Lane Marker
Driving Or Right Shoulder Marker
Signaling Inconsistently With Driving Actions
Driving With Headlights Off
Inexplicable Slowing Or Stopping
Being Reported By Another Citizen
Determining Probable Cause
Merely being pulled over for any of these driving behaviors does not necessarily constitute probable cause for DUI in most states. Once you are pulled over you have no legal obligation to answer any incriminating questions the officer may ask you. Of course, they will be looking for signs of intoxication such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, decreased motor skills and an alcohol odor from your car or breath.
The office may most likely ask if you have been drinking. Your best bet may be to say ‘I would like to speak with an attorney prior to answering any questions’. Unfortunately, this may make the cop more suspicious. If you say ‘no’ you have not been drinking it may come back to haunt you later. Also, if you admit to having had anything to drink you will be subject to a breathalyzer of possibly field sobriety tests. Regardless, our skilled DUI attorneys will ensure that the police officer had probable cause to pull you over to begin with.
Implied Consent Laws & DUI Charges
Possessing a valid drivers license and being afforded the opportunity to operate a motor vehicle in the United States, Washington DC & Puerto Rico is a privilege. It is absolutely not a right as many people believe. Having a valid drivers license brings with it responsibilities that must be met if you are going to be licensed to operate motor vehicle in your state. One of those obligations is adhering to Implied Consent Law if you are charged with DUI.
Being charged with any type of DUI such as first offense, subsequent offense, drugged driving, etc. is very serious and needs to be treated as such. In the face of a DUI charge, even a misdemeanor DUI charge, you need experienced legal representation to protect your rights and driving privileges.
Implied consent laws essentially mean if you drive in any state and are suspected of DUI, you voluntarily agree to a chemical test to determine the degree of impairment.
Implied consent laws include:
- Producing a driver’s license and proof of insurance when asked
- Consenting to blood, urine, or breath tests to determine your blood-alcohol content if requested.
- Performing field sobriety tests if requested.
Not taking or being unable to complete field sobriety tests (FST’s) carries a penalty of immediate loss of license and/or driving privileges for a period of time in addition to the penalties for DUI. The length of time you lose you driving privileges becomes longer with each subsequent DUI offense.
When you signed forms to apply for a driver’s license, you agreed to comply with requests by law enforcement officers to take chemical testing to determine your blood-alcohol content (BAC). Chemical testing can include breath, blood, and urine testing. A breath test, commonly referred to as a breathalyzer, can be administered roadside or at any location; blood and urine testing can only be performed at a medical facility or detention facility.
In addition, some states consider your refusal to submit to chemical testing as an admission of guilt and allow your refusal to be used as evidence against you in court. It is highly likely that you will face more severe punishment by the courts if you refuse chemical testing. When facing any type of DUI or criminal charge it behooves you to consult with our experienced Waldorf, Maryland DUI attorneys. They will attempt to have your charges dropped or dismissed and if that is not possible they will do everything necessary to lessen the negative effects of your charges.
Overview of Basic DUI, DWI & OUI Laws By State
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws defining it as a crime to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above a set level, 0.08 percent.
Because suspension laws are independent of criminal procedures and are invoked right after arrest, they’ve been found to be more effective than traditional post-conviction sanctions. Administrative license suspension laws are in place in 41 states and the District of Columbia.
Some offenders in 46 states and the District of Columbia are permitted to drive only if their vehicles have been equipped with ignition interlocks. These devices analyze a driver’s breath and disable the ignition if the driver has been drinking.
Laws prohibiting the driver, passengers, or both from possessing an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of a vehicle are in place in 43 states and the District of Columbia.
1 Drivers usually must demonstrate special hardship to justify restoring privileges during suspension, and then privileges often are restricted. 2 The 0.08 per se BAC law in Michigan contains a sunset clause which states that the legal BAC will revert to 0.10 on October 1, 2013. 3 In New York, administrative license suspension lasts until prosecution is complete. 4 In Tennessee, municipalities and counties can prohibit passengers from possessing an open container.
Overview Of Drugged Driving Laws
A drug, whether recreational, prescribed or illegally obtained, is a substance that alters your feelings, perceptions and behavior when ingested, smoked or injected. Once under the influence of any type of narcotic, your judgment, motor skills and cognitive functions are impaired. All of these separately as well as collectively, negatively impact ability to operate a motor vehicle. On some drugs, other sensations and feelings become more important to you than the road. On others, you become numb to you surroundings, and less and less able to deal with the risks and details of driving.
Look closely at the types of drugs people use today and see why having them in your system makes you an irresponsible, dangerous out-of-control driver:
It produces a dreamy state of mind and creates the illusion that your senses are sharper than ever. While it’s true that your attention becomes focused, you actually become preoccupied with unusual thoughts or visions, not the road. That “spaced out” feeling, also known as the high, alters your sense of time and space, making it difficult to make quick decisions, judge distances and speed, and causes slow, disconnected thoughts, poor memory and in many cases paranoia. Even hours after the effect is gone, this inability to deal with the unexpected lingers. And marijuana stays in your system well after the buzz has worn off, especially if you consume, ingest or smoke everyday.
Marijuana DUI laws also apply to medical marijuana, spice and other types of synthetic marijuana.
Psychedelic drugs such as Ambien, Lunesta, XTC, LSD, PCP, magic mushrooms and Mescaline disorient the user to the point that driving becomes almost irrelevant. Under the influence of these drugs, you are likely to see, hear, smell and feel things that aren’t even there. With that, the user will focus on these hallucinations to the exclusion of anything so ordinary as the road. The impact on cognitive function and motor skills these narcotics can bring on a kind of panic that could cause total loss of control.
Glue, paint, solvents, aerosols, cleaning supplies, ‘whip-its’ and other products with powerful fumes can produce mind changes similar to hallucinogenic drugs, with the same bad consequences for driving. A possible DUI arrest aside these products can also cause irreversible brain damage and death with even a one time use.
Uppers are drugs that stimulate the Central Nervous System (CNS). Examples are cocaine (coke & crack cocaine) and speed (meth or crystal meth), increase physical energy, mental awareness and offer a feeling of euphoria by increasing heart rate and blood pressure. Driving under the influence of this artificial energy makes it difficult to sit still, concentrate on the road, or make rational judgments about traffic. These surges of energy interfere with the calm state of mind needed to be a good driver. And when the high is gone, the user crashes with feelings of extreme fatigue and depression. Driving on any type of stimulant is also one of the easiest drugs for authorities to pick up on once pulled over.
Downers are drugs like painkillers, barbiturates, tranquilizers, anti-anxiety medications and muscle relaxers numb the central nervous system (brain & spinal cord) to such a degree that muscles relax, tension and anxiety are masked. With that, the user becomes very drowsy which leads to slowed reflexes, decreased motor skills and coordination necessary for operating a motor vehicle of any sort rapidly deteriorate. Often combined with alcohol, which is another CNS depressant, downers are deadly because breathing slows down so much that the brain becomes starved for oxygen. Downers and sedatives are very commonly associated with DUI accident related deaths where the person who has been killed is the intoxicated driver.
Over The Counter (OTC) Medications
Don’t forget that medicines for treating colds, allergies and sinus congestion are drugs too. Most contain antihistamines, which have many of the same effects as sedatives. It is very easy, without even thinking about it, to combine one of these drugs with alcohol, and find yourself falling asleep at the wheel soon afterwards. In addition, many users attempting to ‘change how they feel’ can combine multiple OTC drugs and completely render themselves ill equipped to drive a vehicle of any sort.
Heroin, morphine and codeine (found in certain cough medicines) are addictive drugs that relieve pain, depress mental functions and produce euphoria in the user. The eye’s ability to react to light is poor, and driving skills are impaired much the same way as they would be under the influence of sedatives.
Alcohol (Chemical Name ETOH)
Alcohol is by far the most common reason for DUI charges although in recent years drugged driving arrests have exponentially increased. Once alcohol (aka booze) is ingested, your ability to drive a vehicle, and control yourself, immediately start to deteriorate. Good judgment, concentration and your ability to react quickly to the unexpected start to disappear. Your vision declines and you become uncoordinated, forgetful and clumsy. As alcohol is a CNS depressant, just like sedatives, your inhibitions are greatly lowered. If you’re normally shy, timid or socially ‘awkward’, you may feel it’s easier to have fun under the influence of alcohol. Bear in mind that alcohol is tricky. It has been as ‘cunning, baffling and powerful. You feel as though you are suddenly more comfortable in your own skin because you’re not as anxious as usual. You will also become overconfident of your abilities and start to behave irresponsibly. Although you feel more like you’re in the swing of things, you’re just not as concerned about being “out of it.”
If you’re taking any kind of prescription medication, talk to you doctor or pharmacist about how it might impair your driving ability. Also discuss possible complications arising from drinking while taking the medication. These can be from a range of different medication classes such as antidepressants, sleeping pills, insomnia medications, muscle relaxers, painkillers, opioids, anti-anxiety medications, GABA inhibitors, sedatives & hypnotics.
Another commonly seen criminal charge with driving under the influence of a prescription medication of any kind is that you can very well face drug possession charges IN ADDITION to the DUI, DWI, OUI or OVI charges. This is never good and only makes your already bad situation way way worse.
Combining Alcohol, Drugs & Prescription Meds
Taking drugs and drinking alcohol together is one of the dumbest things you can do even if you are not driving a vehicle. When combining drugs and alcohol you are multiplying the effects of each in a very powerful and dangerous way. Not only will your impairment, intoxication and odds of making a fool of yourself increase, but your life is threatened also.
How Authorities Determine If You’re Drunk, High Or Both
All states, Puerto Rico & Washington D.C., have trained police officers to detect the presence of drugs other than alcohol in impaired drivers. The Drug Evaluation and Classification Program provides the evidence needed to successfully prosecute drivers for operating under the influence. The presence of abused drugs or controlled substances in the system can be used as evidence of impairment. If you are facing DUI, DWI, OUI or OVI charges in any state please contact our Pennsylvania DUI defense attorneys right away for a free consult.
Contact Our DUI Attorneys & DWI Defense Lawyers
Our team of La Plata, Maryland DUI attorneys have a wealth of experience handling all types of DUI charges and criminal cases throughout the United States. If you, or your child, have been charged with DUI, DWI or OUI please click here to email our DUI attorneys. With their many years if experience they will do everything necessary to effectively protect your rights, your freedom and your academic future.
No matter what state you were arrested in our team of DUI attorneys can help as they serve all 50 states and Washington D.C. including: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Wyoming and Wisconsin.
Ambien & Lunesta DUI Attorneys
Are you, or a loved one, facing Lunesta or Ambien DUI charges anywhere in the United States including California, New York, Florida, Illinois or Pennsylvania? Is this your first DUI of any sort or a subsequent offense? Do you know what rights you have in a DUI case? Enlisting the help of a skilled and experienced Ambien DUI attorneys is a smart move.
Please contact our team of Ambien DUI attorneys and Lunesta DUI defense lawyers to discuss your case. They offer free consultations to those with pending Ambien DUI charges. Our Zolpidem DUI attorneys proudly serve all 50 states, Puerto RIco & Washington DC including Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, New York and New Jersey.
What Is Ambien?
Ambien is the most commonly known form of the sleeping medication Zolpidem. Other common brand names are Ambien, Ambien CR, Intermezzo, Stilnox, Stilnoct, Sublinox, Zonadin, Sanval, Zolsana and Zolfresh. Ambien is a prescription medication commonly prescribed for insomnia and certain brain disorders. Ambien is a short-acting nonbenzodiazepinehypnotic of the imidazopyridine class that potentiates GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, by binding to GABAA receptors at the same location as benzodiazepines. Ambien is fast acting and begins to exert it’s effects within 15 minutes of ingestion. It also has a relatively short half-life of two to three hours meaning that the body metabolizes it quickly and begins to remove it from the system.
If you are facing Ambien DUI charges please contact our Maryland Lunesta DUI attorneys for a free consult. They will do everything necessary to protect your rights and attempt to have your charges dropped or dismissed.
Is Taking Ambien A Defense To A Charge Of DUI? – This is a complex question turning on many components. At a minimum – it is an explanation or “mitigator” that may help explain why so many individuals drive after taking Ambien and later have no memory of the act – or even the “decision” to drive. If you are facing sleep driving charges our Ambien DUI lawyers serving California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C., Arizona and Massachusetts can help you.
The FDA’s Definition Of Sleep Driving
“Sleep driving” driving while not fully awake after the ingestion of a sedative-hypnotic product – and later having no memory of the event of driving. Ambien as well as sleeping medications such as Lunesta, Sonata and Rozerem produce “sedative-hypnotic” side effects that cause this condition.
Our network of Ambien DUI lawyers have handled many cases where DUI is charged after my client’s have taken Ambien, Lunesta or other sleeping pill. The pattern is always the same. They take the medication – fall asleep – and at some point – without the knowledge or input of others – actually start sleep-walking… and then “sleep driving.”
Almost all states recognize the “Lunesta Defense.” While “sleep driving” would seem to be an “involuntary act” – judges will not specifically instruct on the defense. Taking Lunesta is considered a voluntary act – the known side effects include sleep driving and like other medications – driving is prohibited while under the influence of the drug.
The truth is – few read – or listen to the warnings that come with the prescription drug.
If you use Ambien or other “sedative-hypnotic” medication and then you drive – you may be prosecuted for DUID which stands for Driving Under The Influence Of Drugs.
Is Sleep Driving An Involuntar Act?
The Warning by the manufacturers of “sleep driving“ drugs such as Ambien is found on the clear label on the bottle, and also in a product medication guide that accompanies the prescription.
The argument in a court of law is this – I took the Ambien properly – I went to bed – at some point I awoke and drove my car – I was unaware I was driving – and if aware – I would not have driven.
A crime requires the combination of a voluntary act and the proper mental state. The proposed Ambien defense negates both – in this state of mind – you are neither aware of your actions or acting in a voluntary way.
If a jury accepts the hypothesis – they must acquit because without a voluntary act, there can be no criminal culpability.
Combining Ambien Or Lunesta With Other Intoxicants
As previously discussed the law holds us responsible for the improper use of a prescription drug. Many charged with Lunesta DUI use Ambien with alcohol or other prescription dugs and ignore the warnings on the packaging. This makes the defense more difficult for a jury as it impacts the “clean” use of the defense. Among the improper uses of the drug is exceeding the recommended dosage.
Understanding The Side Effects Of Lunesta & Zolpidem
The Ambien defense will require the use of an expert retained to explain to the jury the “half asleep and half awake” consequence of taking the drug.
While not impacting everyone – this state of mind will cause certain people to do things that they would not do if they were fully awake.
Side Effects include:
Attempting to drive while asleep
Ambien, Lunesta & “Sleep Driving”
The research has clearly demonstrated that drivers who had Ambien in their blood following after blood tests have exhibited some of the most erratic driving behavior.
How do you explain to a jury why an otherwise excellent driver drives the wrong way on a one way – crashing their vehicle into seemingly easily avoidable parked car? Why do individuals under these circumstances have memory loss and amnesia? Why is the drug so prevalent in the United States and yet there is so public knowledge of these well known side effects?
Those arrested and prosecuted for the Lunesta DUI crime of driving under the influence of Ambien – tell me of waking up in jail with no idea how they got there. The investigating police officers tell me of individuals found driving in their pajamas or other sleep wear and who appear to these officers as dazed – confused – unruly.
The Ambien/Lunesta sleep driver appears intoxicated – just as we all do when we are awoken in the middle of REM sleep. They may respond to some basic questions – but are vague and unnatural in their responses.
Here is what the FDA currently (2013) says about sedative-hypnotic drugs such as Ambien & Lunesta:
Sleep Disorder (Sedative-Hypnotic) Drug Information
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has requested that all manufacturers of sedative-hypnotic drug products, a class of drugs used to induce and/or maintain sleep, strengthen their product labeling to include stronger language concerning potential risks. These risks include severe allergic reactions and complex sleep-related behaviors, which may include sleep-driving.
Sleep driving is defined as driving while not fully awake after ingestion of a sedative-hypnotic product, with no memory of the event.
Ambien, Ambien CR (zolpidem tartrate)
Carbrital (pentobarbital and carbromal)
Dalmane (flurazepam hydrochloride)
Seconal (secobarbital sodium)
Here Are The Warnings Posted Inside The Product You Purchase At The Pharmacy
Memory impairment: Controlled studies in adults utilizing objective measures of memory yielded no consistent evidence of next-day memory impairment following the administration of Lunesta/Ambien. However, in one study involving zolpidem doses of 10 and 20 mg, there was a significant decrease in next-morning recall of information presented to subjects during peak drug effect (90 minutes post-dose), i.e., these subjects experienced anterograde amnesia. There was also subjective evidence from adverse event data for anterograde amnesia occurring in association with the administration of Lunesta/Ambien, predominantly at doses above 10 mg.
There have been reports of people getting out of bed after taking a sedative-hypnotic and driving their cars while not fully awake, often with no memory of the event. If a patient experiences such an episode, it should be reported to his or her doctor immediately, since “sleep-driving” can be dangerous. This behavior is more likely to occur when Lunesta/Ambien is taken with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants.
Other complex behaviors (e.g., preparing and eating food, making phone calls, or having sex) have been reported in patients who are not fully awake after taking a sedative-hypnotic. As with “sleep-driving”, patients usually do not remember these events.
In addition, patients should be advised to report all concomitant medications to the prescriber. Patients should be instructed to report events such as “sleep-driving” and other complex behaviors immediately to the prescriber. If you are facing Ambien DUI charges anywhere in the United States please contact our Wilmington, Delaware DUI lawyers to discuss your case.
Behavior Changes, Abnormal Cognitive Function & Ambien
A variety of abnormal thinking and behavior changes have been reported to occur in association with the use of sedative/hypnotics. Some of these changes may be characterized by decreased inhibition (e.g., aggressiveness and extroversion that seemed out of character), similar to effects produced by alcohol and other CNS depressants. Visual and auditory hallucinations have been reported as well as behavioral changes such as bizarre behavior, agitation and depersonalization. In controlled trials, < 1% of adults with insomnia who received zolpidem reported hallucinations. In a clinical trial, 7.4% of pediatric patients with insomnia associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), who received zolpidem reported hallucinigenic effect.
Complex behaviors such as “sleep-driving” (i.e., driving while not fully awake after ingestion of a sedative-hypnotic, with amnesia for the event) have been reported with sedative-hypnotics, including zolpidem. These events can occur in sedative-hypnotic-naive as well as in sedative-hypnotic-experienced persons. Although behaviors such as “sleep-driving” may occur with Ambien alone at therapeutic doses, the use of alcohol and other CNS depressants with Ambien appears to increase the risk of such behaviors, as does the use of Ambien at doses exceeding the maximum recommended dose.
Due to the risk to the patient and the community, discontinuation of Ambien should be strongly considered for patients who report a “sleep-driving” episode. Other complex behaviors (e.g., preparing and eating food, making phone calls, or having sex) have been reported in patients who are not fully awake after taking a sedative-hypnotic. As with “sleep-driving”, patients usually do not remember these events. Amnesia, anxiety and other neuro-psychiatric symptoms may occur unpredictably.
In primarily depressed patients, worsening of depression, including suicidal thoughts and actions (including completed suicides), has been reported in association with the use of sedative/hypnotics.
It can rarely be determined with certainty whether a particular instance of the abnormal behaviors listed above is drug induced, spontaneous in origin, or a result of an underlying psychiatric or physical disorder. Nonetheless, the emergence of any new behavioral sign or symptom of concern requires careful and immediate evaluation.
“Unconsciousness / Sleepwalking”
An involuntary act in many states is generally a complete defense to a crime.
However as noted above – the actual act of taking Ambien is voluntary – it is the response to the drug – that may be argued to be involuntary. Therefore the law in this area is still evolving.
State Laws On Involuntary Intoxication
It is an affirmative defense to the crime of_______________________ (insert name of crime) that the defendant lacked the capacity to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law because of intoxication that was not self-induced.
This instruction can only be used when there has been evidence introduced that the intoxication was not self-induced. In all other situations concerning intoxication, the previous instruction is the only instruction applicable.
If sleepwalking occurs without fault, it may be a defense. The questions that must be asked are:
Q – 1 Was the Lunesta or Ambien taken by prescription?
Q-2 Was the Lunesta or Zolpidem combined with anything such as alcohol, an illegal drug, or another drug prohibited by Ambien’s warning label?
Q-3 Did the accused have prior experience with sleepwalking due to Lunesta or Ambiem? If so ignorance of the side effects (which would put him or her on notice of the risks of sleepwalking) can no longer be asserted?
How Our Waldorf, MD Lunesta DUI Attorneys Can Help You
Our team of Lunesta DUI attorneys, provide criminal defense clients with effective, efficient, intelligent and strong legal advocacy. They can educate you and help you navigate the stressful and complex legal process related to your criminal defense issue. In addition, they are skilled Las Vegas, Nevada Ambien DUI attorneys who will provide you with a free initial case consultation to evaluate your legal issues and to answer your questions with an honest assessment of your options.
No matter what state you were arrested in our team of Waldorf, Maryland DUI attorneys can help as they serve all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. including: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Wyoming and Wisconsin.