Ambien and DUI Charges: Spokane DUI Lawyer’s Perspective

Shortly after the sleeping pill Ambien (Zolpidem) came on to the market, there were reports of the drug causing strange incidents of sleep walking.   In some extreme cases, the drug was causing a phenomenon called “sleep driving.”  “Sleep driving” is recognized by the Food and Drug Administration and is defined as “driving while not fully awake after ingestion of a sedative-hypnotic product, with no memory of the event.”  This is the description many DUI lawyers hear when they have clients describe waking up in jail with no memory of the night prior. On March 14, 2007, the FDA warned that Ambien and other similar drugs can cause “complex sleep-related behaviors which may include sleep-driving, making phone calls, and preparing and eating food (while asleep).”Ambien Despite this action by FDA, courts are generally not-receptive to claims by defendants that they drove “unconsciously” or that they did not “intend” to commit DUI.  In fact, in the 2010 case of Myers v. State, a court of appeals in Georgia said that it was appropriate for a judge to specifically instruct a jury that it is not a defense that a defendant was unconscious or didn’t intend to drive drunk while under the influence of Ambien. Last year a court of appeals in People v. Mathson in California stated that Ambien ingestion would not be defense to DUI, at least if the drug were taken voluntarily.  The court seemed to leave open the idea that the defense would still be possible in instances when the person did not voluntarily take the drug, for example, when it was slipped in their drink.  The subject of Ambien DUI has not be directly addressed in Washington courts.  However, Washington DUI lawyers have taken note of the case State v. Deer in 2010 where the court held that such a black out would be a defense to other crimes.  The subject of Ambien DUIs in the news have been increasingly common.  New York DWI lawyer Eric Sachs wrote about the arrest of Kerry Kennedy in his blog recently.  Kerry Kennedy is the daughter of Robert Kennedy and was also married to the former New York Governor.

2 Responses to “Ambien and DUI Charges: Spokane DUI Lawyer’s Perspective”

  • Dr. Moojan Donaldson:

    Dear Law Firm,

    I am a doctor in pharmaceutical sciences with a Pharm. D. degree from
    USC. I am a pharmacokineticist, with expertise in various fields such as, polypharmacy, psychopharmacology, geriatric
    pharmacy, infectious disease, ICU and SICU pharmacy, pain management, drug addiction, long term care pharmacy, ambulatory care pharmacy, clinical
    pharmacy, regulatory proceedings and standard of care with
    certain capacities in medical malpractice when it is
    medication related and more. I specialize in AMBIEN DEFENSE. In addition to having anictodal experience with my own patients on Ambien, I have studied ambien’s pharmacolkientics and pharmacodynamics in depth.When it comes to Ambien Defense, it’s not just the presence of Ambien in the blood that’s important, but the presence and/or absence of a variety of other naturally occuring substances and the function of many organs in the body. One needs to consider drug-drug interactions, food-drug interactions, over-the-counter and vitamins/minerals consumption and the patient’s individualized drug metabolism. I am currently the clinical director of a long term care pharmacy. I educate law firms about their cases and prepare them for trial by helping them understand the scientific and molecular basis of the Pharmaceutical issues involved.

    I have been practicing Forensic Pharmacy for over 22 years with emphasis on the individuality of each case. I have been retained by both plaintiff and defense attorneys in numerous cases. Distance is of no object as I am happy to travel as far as needed to assist you and your firm.

    Please contact me for more info and a CV
    if I can be of any service to you.


    Dr. Moojan Donaldson

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Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer, and he splits his time between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. Visit his website by clicking:
Law Office of Steve Graham
1312 North Monroe Street, #140
Spokane, WA 99201
(509) 252-9167
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