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Ambien Sleep driving


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#1 nomoreloss

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 10:14 AM

Illinois DUI - A friend was recently charged with DUI when local police arrested him for hitting a parked car while apparently trying to parallel park on the wrong side of the street. Friend claims last thing he remembers, he was home, went to bed and fell asleep. Several hours later, he apparently got up and got in his car and began to drive. He did not remember waking up and driving. Police took him to the hospital and then to jail. His blood tested positive for small amounts of alcohol, cocaine and Ambien (sorry, I do not know the exact amounts shown from the bloodtest). Friend believes he was in a state of sleep walking-driving induced by the Ambien as he was not drunk or high when he went to bed and had no intention of driving anywhere after he went to bed.

Is the possibility that the Ambien made him do something that was out of his control a defense for getting the DUI dropped? He is 55 years old, has no history of sleepwalking and no prior record with the law.

Are their any attorneys in central Illinois who specialize in Ambien related cases?

Thanks for your advice.



#2 nomoreloss

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 07:00 PM

Also, forgot to mention that my friend also has Parkinson disease. One of the early onset symptoms is related to sleep problems such as acting out dreams, hallucinations, etc.

Can this be used as defense for dui?


#3 Tax_Counsel

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 08:28 PM

nomoreloss said...

Friend believes he was in a state of sleep walking-driving induced by the Ambien as he was not drunk or high when he went to bed and had no intention of driving anywhere after he went to bed.

Is the possibility that the Ambien made him do something that was out of his control a defense for getting the DUI dropped?

I don't see the prosecutor as likely to drop the charges simply because your friend claims to have been "sleep driving." The prosecutor knows that defense will be a tough sell to a jury, particularly when he had alcohol and cocaine in his system as well. While sleep driving (and other complex activities done while not fully awake) is a known possible side effect from use of Ambien, it is pretty rare. See the prescribing information posted on the manufacturer's web site. However, the risk of it increases when Ambien is combined with alcohol and some drugs. The Ambien patient instructions on file with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) specifically say not to drink alcohol when taking this drug. They also say to inform the doctor of any illegal drug use. Of course, he should not be using cocaine at all anyway as that is an illegal drug. Ignoring the labeling and using alcohol and ignoring the law and using coke while on Ambien makes him responsible for increasing the risk of sleep driving.

There very likely won't be any lawyers that specialize in Ambien DUI sleep driving cases; it happens far too infrequently for a lawyer to build a practice just on that. He needs to see a good DUI lawyer. This defense will be a very difficult one on which to win. The jury will be skeptical that he was sleep driving in the first place, and even if they accept that he was sleep driving, they are likely to hold against him the fact that he was also doing alcohol and illegal drugs which increased his risk for sleep driving.

If he was sleep driving, he needs to inform his doctor of the event and he should probably be taken off the Ambien.





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