Barbara A. Bowden

Tacoma, WA DUI Attorney

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Sleep Driving DUIs

Sleep driving has become a much larger problem in the United States as an increasing number of individuals use a sleep aid to help them sleep. Over 9 million people use some type of sleep aid to help them get the rest they need. Unfortunately, studies have shown that sleep aids can contribute to DUI incidents. “Sleep driving” is defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as “driving while not fully awake after ingestion of a sedative-hypnotic product, with no memory of the event.” The FDA requested drug manufacturers to add specific label warnings about sleep driving and other dangers. Unfortunately, many people still do not understand the danger of taking sleeping aids and driving.

The FDA has specifically warned drug manufacturers that sleep aids containing zolpidem, such as Ambien, Edluar, and Zolpimist, can result in sleep driving. In some cases, these drugs can remain in the system in high enough doses the morning after taking the drug to impair driving. Some people can be impaired even though they may feel awake and capable of driving. The FDA is currently evaluating the risks of impaired driving for other insomnia drugs including prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids.

Can I be charged with a DUI for sleep driving?Steering Wheel

Washington law states that a person is guilty of driving under the influence if that person’s BAC is .08 or higher within two hours after driving, as shown by a chemical test. At this time, Washington does not have a specific law against “drowsy driving” or “sleep driving.” The charge in cases involving driving after taking sleep aids is typically driving under the influence of drugs. The penalties for a drugged DUI charge are the same as those for driving under the influence of alcohol.

If your ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired by drugs or alcohol, you can be charged with driving while “affected by” a drug instead of a DUI. This means that your ability to drive was impaired or negatively “affected by” the drug. In most cases, the state uses eyewitness testimony (i.e. the officer) and field sobriety tests to prove their case.

If you are charged with an offense related to sleep driving, you may have a valid legal defense. Washington DUI laws punish individuals for “voluntary” intoxication. If you did not take more than the prescribed dose of a legally prescribed sleeping aid, an experienced DUI attorney may be able to use this as a defense to a drugged DUI charge. It is vital that you contact our office as soon as possible so that we can investigate the specific facts and circumstances of your sleep driving charges to develop the best legal defense to avoid a DUI conviction.

Have you been charged with DUI for drugs in Washington?

The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden can help you with a charge for sleep driving and/or driving under the influence of drugs. You are facing serious consequences if convicted. Do not trust your defense to an attorney with no experience or very little experience. Contact our office to discuss your legal defenses to a Washington drugged DUI.