blog > August > 2018 > DUI Defense for Sleep Driving Caused by Alcohol and Ambien: How Our Santa Rosa Attorneys Can Help
DUI Defense for Sleep Driving Caused by Alcohol and Ambien: How Our Santa Rosa Attorneys Can Help
If you were recently involved in an accident due to sleep driving caused by alcohol and Ambien, our Santa Rosa attorneys can help. A recent case, People v. Mathson, saw the court consider a DUI defendant’s driving behavior as sleep driving due to the influence of Ambien. With the help of our legal team at the Law Office of Joe Bisbiglia, we can enable you to navigate cases like this and help the court understand your side of the story.
People v. Mathson
During the Mathson case, the trial Court provided the jury with modified instructions that addressed issues of involuntary intoxication and unconsciousness. If proven, both are affirmative defenses to crimes that give the jury the ability to acquit a DUI defendant.
California’s Penal Code states that people who commit a crime without being conscious are not capable of committing crimes. And the modified jury instructions provided by the Judicial Council in the Mathson case contained language that refers to “sleepwalking,” which is a common symptom of Ambien. In fact, it is so common that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires Ambien creators to provide labels that warn of the drug’s sleep driving risk.
In the Mathson case, the trial court omitted language regarding sleepwalking and instructed the jury that only involuntary intoxication could cause unconsciousness. The reason lies in the fact that voluntary intoxication, even in cases where it causes unconsciousness, is not an adequate reason for the jury to acquit a defendant of DUI charges.
Prosecutors in cases involving Ambien will likely argue that defendants can anticipate sleepwalking side effects. But a persuasive defense attorney can use the California Judicial Council’s Pattern Jury Instructions to create a situation where the jury is provided with clear guidelines that can help them vote to acquit the defendant.