Whatever Happened to the California Man Charged with a Caffeine DUI?
In California last year a man was charged with driving under influence. The only substance in his system – caffeine.
The police officer observed erratic and reckless driving, and believed the man to be under the influence of drugs when the man was amped up and agitated. A drug test came back negative for all substances except caffeine.
The prosecution refused to drop the charges for almost a year, convinced the man must have been under the influence of something. Eventually, the charges were dropped.
That case might not turn out the same way here in Michigan.
Driving Under the Influence of Caffeine is a Real Crime in Michigan
The California DA dropped the charges after the negative drug test results. This might not be the situation in Michigan.
In Michigan, it is against the law to drive under the influence of an “intoxicating substance.”
Which brings us to the next question.
What is an Intoxicating Substance?
The term “intoxicating substance” is broad and covers many types of substances. One of those substances is caffeine. This is why you could be prosecuted for a caffeine DUI in Michigan but not California. California’s DUI laws must not include substances such as caffeine. (Did I really just use the phrase “caffeine DUI?”).
An intoxicating substance includes a substance recognized as a drug in either:
- The official United States Pharmacopoeia,
- The official Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States,
- The official National Formulary, or
- A substance, other than food, taken into a person’s body, including, but not limited to, vapors or fumes, that is used in a manner or for a purpose for which it was not intended, and that may result in a condition of intoxication. These substances would be sniffing glue or huffing DUIs.
Caffeine would be included as an intoxicating substance. Michigan lawmakers made sure to include every possible substance under the umbrella of OWI laws.
So think twice before drinking that second cappuccino. Next thing you know an enterprising drug recognition expert will have you doing the walk-and-turn.
Sam Bernstein is an Ann Arbor lawyer.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.