Driving Under the Influence – Ambien

240px-Zolpidem_structure_simple.svgZolpidem, or “ambien” as it is commonly known, is a sleep medication that has become increasingly popular in the last several years.

Former Prosecutor Gary D. Labin is a partner at Lieber Williams and Labin and has over 10 years of experience prosecuting and defending DUI matters. For a Free Consultation anytime call (866) 294-9399.

How Ambien Works

Ambien is a fast-acting medication that induces sleep, and is not part of the addictive and controversial benzodiazepines family.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI involving ambien or any other substance, the first thing to do is consult with an experienced DUI lawyer.

The lawyers at the Los Angeles law firm of Lieber Williams and Labin provide Free Consultations.

Call (866) 294-9399 to discuss how we can fight your case!

Ambien DUI Cases

Driving under the influence cases involving ambien have become more common recently. A recurring theme in ambien driving under the influence (DUI) matters is a lack of memory regarding what occurred. Commonly, individuals state that, “I took an ambien, went to bed, and woke up in jail.” This perception of sleepwalking or driving while sleeping may actually be a chemical reaction to the drug causing memory loss and resulting in the belief that one was asleep because of that lack of memory. Amnesia is a common side-effect of ambien, along with multiple other side effects, some of which are:

  • Headaches;
  • Hunger;
  • Relaxation of social inhibitions;
  • Hallucinations;
  • Hunger;
  • Delusions; and
  • Nausea

DUI cases involving ambien are handled in the same way that all other DUI matters involving non-alcoholic substances are handled. Unlike cases involving street drugs or prescription medications, alcohol-related DUI’s have an identifiable limit: .08% blood alcohol content by weight in the blood. This .08% blood alcohol content limit is set forth in Vehicle Code Section 23152(b). However, one can be below the .08% blood alcohol content mark and still be “impaired” because of alcohol. Driving while impaired, whether by street drugs, alcohol, or validly prescribed medication is prohibited by Vehicle Code Section 23152(a).

To be convicted of driving while impaired, it must be proven (beyond a reasonable doubt) that a defendant:

  • Drove a motor vehicle; and
  • Did so while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug; or
  • Did so while under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and drug; or
  • Did so while addicted to the use of any drug (any street drug or prescription medication).

The term “under the influence” used in the above-mentioned code section simply means that the driver was impaired to such a degree that he or she unable to operate a vehicle with the caution of a sober person under the same or similar circumstances.

DUI Consequences

Penalties for a first offense of driving under the influence (in cases without injury) in all California courts can include the following:

  • Up to 180 days in county jail (jail time for a first offense is rare once the driver is released post-arrest);
  • An alcohol education class of up to 9 months (can be as short as 3 months); and
  • Court fees and a fine of between $390 and $1000 plus penalty assessments (a tax of 260%).

Call Lieber Williams and Labin today for a Free Consultation at (866) 294-9399. We are standing by and are ready to help!