Driving Under the Influence … of Caffeine?

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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

 

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