DWI for Caffeine? Really?

Thankfully for a Californian who was facing the prospect of a DWI conviction, those charges have been dropped. New reports out of the western U.S. state in reported that a man there was charged with DWI even though the only drug found in his system after his blood was examined was caffeine. Now the charges have been dropped on a motion from the prosecutor, and it has left many asking questions about why the charges were brought at all.

This case began last year when the police observed a man driving, as they put it, erratically. The officer pulled the driver over, and after interviews and field sobriety tests, decided to arrest him and charge him with DWI. The lab took samples off the man after his arrest, hoping to find evidence of alcohol or some other drug, but found nothing. The only substance that showed up in the lab tests was caffeine.

Despite these results, the prosecutor insisted on going forward with the case. According to their office, these screenings do not detect all drugs, so based on the evidence collected by the police officer, the case would continue. That decision brought criticism from across the country. It was also a bad idea because the case had very little chance of ending in a conviction for DWI.

Case Dropped

It was not until recently that the case was dropped, but that was a good idea for several reasons. In the first instance, as a defendant to any criminal charge, you are entitled to all the exculpatory material in the prosecution’s possession. In this case that would include the test results that showed there was no illegal drugs or alcohol in the defendant’s system. It would have the added benefit of showing that caffeine was present, as no doubt most of the jury would have caffeine in their system as they rolled their eyes at the prosecution’s case.

There is another reason why the case should have been dismissed, which is that it was the right thing to do. Under rules of professional conduct, prosecutors are bound to seek justice in the cases they handle, not get a win or conviction. That was clearly the right choice here, no matter what the police thought of the results of field sobriety tests.

Reliability of Field Sobriety Tests in General

This case also brings up questions about the reliability of field sobriety tests. According to the officer in this case, there was no doubt the man was impaired while driving. Yet when the science was applied and his blood tested, there was no evidence at all of DWI. It simply reveals how the results of a field sobriety test are subjective at best. If an officer goes into an arrest looking for a DWI suspect, he will probably find one.

This case is the rare exception of a DWI charge being dropped instead of negotiated or fought at trial. If you are facing DWI charges you need the right legal team to help defend you. At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm we have the tools and experience your case needs to win. Contact us today.

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