Montgomery County PA Ambien DUI Lawyer
Many people are prescribed the sleep medication Ambien (Zolpidem Tartrate) for serious or even mild sleep disorders. When used as directed it can help those who battle insomnia. However, if Ambien is not used as directed or is used in conjunction with other drugs and or alcohol, it can basically induce a blackout which can have serious and unintended affects.
Pennsylvania DUI law prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances (drugs). Controlled substances include drugs that are illegal (such as cocaine and heroin) and drugs that require a prescription to legally possess. Ambien, like all prescription medication, qualifies as a “controlled substance” under the DUI statute. This means that if a person drives a car under the influence of Lunesta or Ambien to the point that it “impairs the individual’s ability to safely drive”, that person can be convicted of DUI.
If you have been charged with a DUI based on taking ambien, you should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you. Please feel free to contact me, Plymouth Meeting DUI Attorney Erik Petersene to discuss your case.
Ambien DUI and “Sleep Driving”
“Sleep driving”, like sleep walking, is becoming more of an issue in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and around the country. And while driving under the influence of Ambien can be illegal (if it impairs your ability to drive safely), juries have acquitted people in some of these cases on a theory that the person was involuntarily under the influence of Ambien.
The question in Ambien DUI cases frequently comes down to whether a person should have known that the ingestion of Ambien could cause him or her to “sleep drive” or otherwise drive unsafely. The investigation therefore may focus on whether any of the following applies:
- Did the person combine Ambien with alcohol or any other drug
- Did the person exceed the recommended dosage
- Did the person ignore the written warnings (such as taking Ambien shortly before driving — hoping it would “kick in” when they got home — or taking Ambien prior to a shorter period of sleep such as a nap).
- Has the person ever had a similar reported incident (which, prosecutors may argue, should make them more aware of the risk of “sleep driving”
PA Ambien DUI Arrests — The Morning After Effect
The Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approved Zolpidem (commonely known as Ambien) in 2007. In the years since, PA prosecutors have become increasingly more aggressive in pursuing Ambien DUI arrests. Many of these Ambien DUI arrests have taken place in the morning after a person took Ambien the night before.
Studies have shown that a percentage of people could still have “impaired driving skills” eight hours after taking the recommended dose of Ambien. This is especially true of women, which has caused the FDA to recommend a lower dose for women and to urge prescribers generally to consider prescribing lower doses for everyone.
The law regarding Ambien DUI is still developing as more cases go through the system. The FDA and doctors — not to mention judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers — continue to learn how Ambien can affect a person’s ability to drive at various dosages and delayed time intervals. For anyone charged with DUI Ambien, it is important to hire an experienced Montgomery County, PA criminal defense attorney to help you protect your rights and options.
Penalties For Ambien DUI Conviction In Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania impaired driving law provides that Ambien DUIs are punished the same as if a person operates an automobile under the influence of illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine or heroin. And, like all DUIs, the penalties for Ambien DUI escalate if you have had any DUI (Ambien or otherwise) within the last 10 years.
If you are facing an Ambien DUI charge, it is important to hire an attorney who is prepared and willing to aggressively prepare a defense on your behalf. Sometimes Ambien DUI cases — more so than regular DUIs — have defenses that have a better chance of success in front of judges and juries. To learn about your options of you are charged with Ambien DUI, contact me, Pottstown DUI Defense Lawyer Erik Petersen to discuss your case at no cost.
I defend those accused of criminal charges, drug crimes, DUI, property crimes, violent crimes and sex offenses throughouth Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. This includes Abington, Ambler, Blue Bell, Collegeville, Conshohocken, Haverford, Jenkintown, Cheltenham Township, Pottstown, Upper Merion Township, Upper Dublin Township, Lower Providence Township, Upper Moreland Township and Horsham Township.