Overcaffeinated Driver Charged With DUI Finally Exonerated

Posted by Richard Lawson | Feb 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Not all DUI charges are founded in cold-hard facts. Sometimes innocent people are unfairly charged, while others receive charges that are simply overblown, and some fall victim to police procedural error. The justice system remains imperfect, though it operates in admirable principle. Therefore, it's imperative that people continue to champion defendant's rights so that unfair charges do not undermine the goal of the justice system.

California saw a perfect example of law enforcement misapplying good intentions in August of 2015 when a driver who was “on” nothing more than grande macchiatos was charged with a DUI. With the excess of caffeine in Joseph Schwab's system, he overzealously weaved in and out of traffic on Interstate 168. According to his arresting officer, Schwab also almost caused several collisions. The Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams said, “The driver seemed very amped up, very agitated, very combative, and she thought he was under the influence of something.” However, though Schwab may have been driving in an unsafe manner it does not mean he was driving under the influence.

The Alcohol Beverage Control Agent who pulled Schwab over found a number of workout supplements, all legal, in his car. She proceeded to conduct "several field sobriety tests and found Schwab's pupils were dilated." Working only with this tenuous evidence, the agent arrested Schwab. Once taken to jail, he agreed to take a blood test - the results of which were negative for cocaine, THC, opiates, methamphetamine, oxycodone and several other drugs. Indeed Schwab only tested positive for one "drug" -- caffeine. While caffeine is still classified as a drug by forensic toxicologists, it is not often associated with driving impairment. Schwab's attorney was a bit dumbfounded at the charge, telling news station KCRA "I didn't believe it . . . I actually consulted with the other attorneys in my office, to make sure that I wasn't missing something."

Despite the lack of evidence of an illegal substance in his system, the D.A. didn't drop the case because she believed that he could have been under the influence of "some other drug not on the test." Schwab was hurt professionally and financially as a result of his DUI arrest and says people did not believe caffeine could've been the source of his DUI. It wasn't until 16 months later that the charges were finally dismissed. In December 2016, the D.A.'s office announced they were dropping charges against Schwab because D.A. Abrams did not think she could prove her case beyond a reasonable doubt without proof of a specific drug. Abrams expressed a "wish" that they could've tested for more drugs than the already wide panel Schwab was tested for because then they "would know what was in his system."

However, Schwab is not free of the justice system just yet as he is still facing a reckless driving charge.

If you have been charged with a DUI in Georgia, you must act quickly to protect your rights. Do not hesitate to contact Cobb County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson. A DUI conviction can have a lasting effect on your career, life, and finances. Seek the help of an experienced legal representative and call our offices today at (404) 816-4440 or contact us online.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Richard S. Lawson is passionate about intoxicated driving defense. Unlike some attorneys, Mr. Lawson devotes 100% of his legal practice to helping people stand up for their rights against DUI charges. For more than 20 years, Mr. Lawson has dutifully fought for his clients' freedom, resolving more 4,900 impaired driving cases during the course of his career. Today, Mr. Lawson has developed a reputation as a skilled negotiator and continues to help clients by fighting to keep them out of jail.


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