Arizona Ambien DUI Lawyers
Many people are prescribed the sleep medication Ambien for sleep disorders. When used as directed it can help those who battle insomnia and other sleep disorders. If Ambien is not used as directed, is used in conjunction with other drugs and or alcohol, it can end disastrously for you. Ambien can induce something similar to a blackout. It is a sedative-hypnotic and can cause users to sleep walk and, in some cases, sleep drive which can end in an Ambien induced DUI. If you have been charged with driving while under the influence of Ambien in Arizona you should speak with our skilled and experienced Arizona Ambien DUI Defense Lawyers.
Contact our Tucson, Arizona Ambien DUI lawyers for a free case review. Our Phoenix, Arizona Ambien DUI lawyers have many years experience defending those accused of DUI, illegal prescription drug possession and other drug crimes in Arizona. As your attorney they will do everything in his power to protect your rights, your future and your reputation.
Ambien and Sleep Driving
With Ambien being a hypnotic you may not recall the events that follow after you ingest it. Some people take Ambien and attempt to stay awake to feel the short lived buzz that precedes the blackout. Other people may take Ambien as directed, which involves taking it once you are in bed, and may wake up and unknowingly ‘sleep drive’.
Penalties For Ambien DUI Conviction In Arizona
A DUI conviction in Florida can disrupt your life now and in the future. This is true even if it is a first offense. Once convicted you will face possible jail time, possible probation, possible house arrest, community service, fines and court costs.
If you were found with illegally obtained, black market or internet purchased oxycodone in the car at the time of the DUI arrest you will face additional charges related to the drugs such as drug possession and illegally obtained prescription medications. The penalties for these charges can be significantly more severe than the DUI charges and can involve fines, fees, community service and jail time.
Ambien DUI Defense In Arizona
The FDA maintains that due to Ambien’s effect any sleepwalking, sleep driving or any other acts due to ingesting Ambien may be considered involuntary acts. Involuntary acts due to a medication’s effects may serve as a defense in a California DUI.
On the flip side, if it can be proved that other factors contributed to the DUI then the involuntary act defense may be nullified. Examples of these acts can be:
Mixing Ambien with other drugs
Mixing Ambien with alcohol
Taking more than the recommended dosage
Taking the drug while driving home prior to going to bed
Call Our Arizona Ambien DUI Lawyers
Do not hesitate to call our Scottsdale, Arizona Ambien DUI lawyers to discuss your case. They have many years experience defending those accused of drugged driving, illegal prescription drug possession and other drug crimes throughout Arizona.
The Alabama Ambien DUI lawyers and Lunesta DUI attorneys at our firm have represented several clients charged with DUI who reported taking Ambien and going to sleep in their bed shortly before their arrest. Unfortunately, these types of cases have become more common over the years.
If needed we will retain the services of an expert in the field of forensic toxicology. Our expert witnesses do a tremendous job of explaining how sleep driving can occur after taking Ambien (Zolpidem) and how the person might wake up in a jail cell with no recollection of the events that occurred after taking the sleeping pill.
What is Ambien or Zolpidem?
The FDA defines “sleep driving” as “driving while not fully awake after ingestion of a sedative-hypnotic product, with no memory of the event.” Several sedative-hypnotic products can cause sleep driving including Ambien, Rozerem, Sonata, and Lunesta. Although “sleep driving” is extremely dangerous, it is not illegal as a “DUI” under Florida law.
Under A;abama’s DUI statute, three types of substances or a combination of these three substances can cause DUI impairment:
- Alcoholic beverages;
- Certain chemical substances
- Certain chemical substances you have no prescription for.
Zolpidem which is sold under the brand name Ambien (zolpidem tartrate) is not listed as a controlled substance under Alabama DUI laws. Additionally, Ambian (Zolpiedem) does NOT qualify as a chemical substance or an alcoholic beverage.
So far Alabama DUI laws have not yet expanded the definition of substances causing impairment under the DUI statute to include Ambien. Because Ambien is used right before bedtime, individuals driving under its influence is rare. Unlike alcohol or recreational drugs, it is not used to create a “high” or while people are partying. Arguable, the impairment is caused by being alseep, not by the intoxicating effects of the substance.
Impairment from Ambien While Driving is not a “DUI” in Alabama
DUI specifically requires proof beyond all reasonable doubt of impairment from alcohol, or a qualifying chemical or controlled substance. Although Ambien, on a rare occasion, might cause a person to drive while half asleep and half awake it does not meet the definition of DUI under Alabama’s current DUI laws.
In these cases, the arresting officer might say that he also smelled alcohol making it very difficult to distinguish between the impairment caused by alcohol verses the impairment caused by the fact the person was half asleep and half awake. In a DUI case involving alcoholic beverages, the jury instructions require proof beyond all reasonable doubt that the Defendant was under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that his or her normal faculties were impaired.
The jury is also told that the term “normal faculties include but are not limited to the ability to see, hear, walk, talk, judge distances, drive an automobile, make judgments, act in emergencies and, in general, to normally perform the many mental and physical acts of our daily lives.”
Other types of impairment, although extremely dangerous, would also not qualify a “DUI.” For instance, a person can be impaired from too much caffeine, extreme fatigue that is not induced by medication, a seizure, extreme emotional distress, or being distracted by a cell phone or text message.
Although these behaviors could be dangerous and might qualify as a criminal offense under another statute, they would not qualify as DUI despite the fact that some type of “impairment” was found.
What is Sleep Driving?
In many of these cases a person takes the sleeping pill and then while partially asleep, unknowingly partially wakes up and engages in some routine behavior such as eating, walking or even grabbing the car keys and walks to their car to drive away. Sleep driving is a well documented phenomenon which is similar to sleep-walking.
In many of these cases, the person is stopped for suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. The person is often only semi-clothed or in their pajamas and appears to be disoriented.
Ambien (Zolpidem) can cause memory loss and amnesia. After these incidents, the person might have no recollection of driving or the initial contact with the officer. Instead, the person describes “walking up in a jail cell” with no recollection of how they ended up being arrested for DUI. Many witnesses to the phenomenon describe the person as being in a sleep like trance.
In these cases, the impairment is not caused by a “high” from the Ambien and or Lunesta. Instead, the impairment is caused because the person is actually partially asleep although their eyes are open and they are driving a vehicle. The person experiences a “dissociative” reaction when certain neural connections are blocks and signals from the brain stem and sub-cortical areas are deactivated. In these cases, the person is essentially half asleep and half awake.
Even the FDA Recognizes DUI Ambien may be an “Involuntary” Act
In 2007, the FDA ordered drug manufacturers of Ambien and similar sedative-hypnotic drugs to warn users of the side effect of “sleep walking” or “sleep driving.” The warning can be found on the bottle label and also on the medication guide that is included with the prescription.
Finding a DUI Attorney Involving Impairment from Ambien
If you were arrested for a DUI or another type of felony or misdemeanor involving impairment from Ambien or Zolpidem in Alabama then contact our experienced Arizona Ambien DUI lawyers. We represent clients throughout Alabama including Mobile, Birmingham, Montgomery and Huntsville and the surrounding areas for a variety of different types of DUI cases involving alcohol, drugs or prescription medications.
Click here now to talk to an Arizona Ambien DUI defense attorney.