Ambien and “Sleep Aids" and Medications (DUI on Ambien, Lunesta and similar medications)


DUI Ambien

Ambien is known to cause a sleepwalking, even a sleep driving, reaction in a small number of patients. If you or someone you care for ends up in this scenario it is particularly important you contact an attorney that understands these drugs. 

Ambien Synopsis – The problem of intentions

Most people associate DUI with alcohol or other recreational drugs. What many people don’t know is that one can be accused of DUI for driving while on totally legal prescribed drugs.  Ambien (Zolpidem) and other similar drugs used to treat insomnia have increasingly been the subject of DUI arrests.  The insidious thing about driving on these drugs is that the accused can be doing it without the intent to drive or break the law.

How Do Police Investigate for Ambien or other prescription drugs?
To initiate an investigation a police officer must have probable cause to move from one stage of the investigation to the next.  First, there must be a reason to make a traffic stop, then an officer will usually initiate field sobriety tests.  If the driver fails some or all of the field tests but passes a breathalyzer test, the officer will usually make the arrest and request a blood sample.  In Nevada we consent to this testing when we get our driver’s license; if the driver refuses the officer will have to get a judicial warrant to continue, however this probably isn’t a smart move because the DMV will suspend your license for one year just for refusing the test.

DUI Ambien and “Sleep Driving”
The FDA considers Ambien, Zolpidem, Lunesta and many similar acting drugs as sedative hypnotics.  The FDA warns that people can involuntarily sleepwalk and even sleep drive on these medications.  The involuntariness of the act is the key to a DUI defense in these situations.

The “Involuntary Act” Defense

One of the major premises of our system of justice is that in most cases when someone is found guilty of a crime they must meet all of the elements of the crime. One of the major elements of most crimes is the intent to commit the illegal act.  Involuntary sleep aid DUI is a hotly contested area of the law that is being sorted out in the courts across the nation.  You should consult with an attorney as this is an evolving area of law.  An attorney will also have many specific questions such as how much was taken, if it was mixed with other drugs, etc.

Is an Ambien DUI Charge Serious?
Any charge of DUI is serious.  Penalties can include jail time, loss of driving privileges, as well as monetary fines.  Beyond that it can affect your auto insurance for years to come and even employment opportunities.  Sleep aid cases in particular should be fought because we as a society shouldn’t be punishing behavior the individual had no control over.   The exact circumstances are key in these kinds of cases, and you should have a competent expert on your side.

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