Driving Under the Influence … of Caffeine?


A California man has been charged with “driving under the influence” of caffeine.  You can read the full story at the Guardian’s website by clicking here.

The charge is odd for a number of reasons.  The man was originally stopped based on reports that he had driven erratically.  He took a breath test, which resulted in a 0.00 BAC.  A blood test was taken, which came back negative for drugs.  A second blood test showed only positive for caffeine.  Nevertheless, the Solano County District Attorney charged him with DUI.  The case is set for trial next month.

It is kind of odd that at the same time that we are seeing an increase in concern about drowsy driving, that we would see a prosecution for caffeinated driving.

Could this happen in Illinois?  The Illinois DUI statute states:

Sec. 11-501. Driving while under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, intoxicating compound or compounds or any combination thereof.
    (a) A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle within this State while:
        (1) the alcohol concentration in the person's blood,
other bodily substance, or breath is 0.08 or more based on the definition of blood and breath units in Section 11-501.2;
        (2) under the influence of alcohol;
        (3) under the influence of any intoxicating compound
or combination of intoxicating compounds to a degree that renders the person incapable of driving safely;
        (4) under the influence of any other drug or
combination of drugs to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving;
        (5) under the combined influence of alcohol, other
drug or drugs, or intoxicating compound or compounds to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving;
        (6) there is any amount of a drug, substance, or
compound in the person's breath, blood, other bodily substance, or urine resulting from the unlawful use or consumption of a controlled substance listed in the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, an intoxicating compound listed in the Use of Intoxicating Compounds Act, or methamphetamine as listed in the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act; or
        (7) the person has, within 2 hours of driving or
being in actual physical control of a vehicle, a tetrahydrocannabinol concentration in the person's whole blood or other bodily substance as defined in paragraph 6 of subsection (a) of Section 11-501.2 of this Code. Subject to all other requirements and provisions under this Section, this paragraph (7) does not apply to the lawful consumption of cannabis by a qualifying patient licensed under the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act who is in possession of a valid registry card issued under that Act, unless that person is impaired by the use of cannabis.

I do not see how a similar prosecution could proceed in Illinois, unless the State could convince a judge that caffeine is an “intoxicating compound.”  Does making a person jittery equal “intoxicating?”  I don’t think so, but I can’t rule out that a judge would think differently.

What do you think?

Update:  The Prosecutor has decided to drop the case


Chicago Police to conduct DUI saturation patrol Saturday night

From a Chicago Police Department Press release:


The Chicago Police Department will be conducting a DUI Saturation Patrol in the Jefferson Park (016th) District this weekend. The DUI Saturation Patrol will commence at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 17, 2016 and end at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, December 18, 2016.

The purpose of this program is to saturate a pre-designated area with roving police officers that continually monitor vehicular traffic for signs of impaired driving. Patrols also place emphasis on speed, alcohol-related and safety belt violations. Police vehicles equipped for speed detection are deployed to apprehend speeding violators.

In addition, the Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) Mobile Unit may also be deployed to allow officers to expedite the process of charging a person with Driving under the Influence (DUI) prior to transporting an alleged into the nearest lockup for bonding. The mobile unit also allows

for Individual Recognizance Bonds (I-Bonds) to be issued at the site of the DUI Saturation Patrol.

It should be noted that last week’s “saturation patrol” in the Albany Park District yielded only one DUI arrest.  Is it a waste of time and money?  What do you think?

AZ Cardinals WR Michael Floyd arrested for DUI

From the Associated Press:

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd was arrested early Monday on charges of driving under the influence and failure to obey a police officer.

Floyd was found unconscious behind the wheel of his running vehicle at a Scottsdale intersection shortly before 3 a.m. MST., police said.

Police said Floyd also was charged with obstructing a roadway.

He was booked and released from the Scottsdale jail at 4:58 a.m., police said.

Pirates’ Kang arrested for third DUI in Korea


From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang’s arrest in South Korea last week on a charge of driving under the influence — his third DUI arrest since 2009 — will trigger a mandatory assessment from a joint treatment panel under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.

The Pirates said Monday that they did not know about Kang’s two prior DUI arrests before they signed him in January 2015…

According to a State Department official, the consular officer reviewing visa cases might require a medical examination to determine whether there is a visa ineligibility if someone has been charged with drunk driving. Kang received a work visa and played for the Pirates in 2015 and this year after the two previous DUIs. The official said the State Department cannot discuss individual visa cases…

Kang was charged with leaving the scene of a DUI accident Friday morning in Seoul after he crashed into a guard rail. Local police told the Yonhap News Agency that a friend of Kang’s in the passenger seat initially told police that the friend was driving, but the car’s black box identified Kang as the driver. The friend, identified only by the surname Yoo, told police the swap was done out of goodwill, but if police determine Kang asked or forced Yoo to claim responsibility, they both could face abetting charges.

Kang’s blood alcohol level was 0.084, above Korea’s legal limit of 0.05. In Pennsylvania, the legal limit is 0.08. Kang’s license is subject to revocation because he committed his third DUI offense, and he cannot reacquire it for two years.

“I’d like to apologize to everyone who is disappointed with me,” Kang said in a statement Friday. “Today, I got behind the wheel after drinking, and committed an irrevocable mistake. I panicked at the moment of the accident and did something that I never should have done.”

Kang also has been the subject of an investigation by Chicago police of allegations of a sexual assault in June, when the Pirates were in town to play the Cubs.

Repeat DUI Offender who struck State Trooper Gets 13 year sentence

This is a follow-up to a story from two years ago.  Two days after pleading guilty to felony DUI, Leslie Thurow did it again, this time seriously injuring an Illinois State Trooper who was conducting a traffic stop in I-294.

One thing that didn’t repeat was her sentence.  She got probation for the earlier offense. This time, she got 13 years.

From the Chicago Tribune (story by Ted Gregory):

A chronic drunken driver who struck and nearly killed an Illinois state trooper in 2014 on Interstate 294 was sentenced to 13 years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to aggravated DUI and leaving the scene of an accident with injuries.

Leslie Thurow wept through much of the hourlong hearing at the Maywood courthouse. Guidelines requiring her to serve a specified percentage of her sentence mean the Mount Prospect woman likely will end up serving nine years in prison.

“My thing with this is I don’t want to see her hurt anybody else again,” Trooper Michael Cokins, 30, said of the sentence. “Hopefully nine years prevents her from killing someone else or herself. She obviously has no regard for human life.”

A crying Thurow, 61, said she was “truly sorry” for striking Cokins about 2:45 p.m. Sept. 6, 2014, when he had stopped a motorist on the northbound Tri-State shoulder near Elmhurst. The trooper broke his shoulder blade, vertebrae, arm, leg, ankle, ribs and knees, among other injuries. He was confined to a wheelchair for three months, then crutches for five more months.

“I didn’t do everything I should have done to help myself,” Thurow added. “I pray for you every day.”

Law enforcement records show that the 2014 incident was Thurow’s third drunken driving crash in nine months. Two days before striking Cokins, Thurow was released on probation for a May DUI arrest in Brookfield.

After striking Cokins, Thurow continued driving north on I-294, hitting a retaining wall. That failed to stop her. Two miles farther along the interstate, she struck an SUV with seven occupants, including a 3-year-old boy. The SUV flipped, but none of the injuries to those inside was critical.

Thurow’s car struck a median, spun 180 degrees and came to a rest facing south. Cokins was in critical condition, and prosecutors were told he was not expected to walk again.

Over the next 14 months, he underwent surgeries and grueling physical therapy. He has about 55 screws and nine metal plates in bones.

After several setbacks, Cokins returned to work in December 2015, assigned to investigations. In June, he returned to patrolling the same stretch of interstate where he was hit.

Trooper Cokins’ recovery is an amazing story.  Thurow’s prison sentence can’t get him back to where he was before this incident. But hopefully sharing this story will prevent future incidents like this from happening again.