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Can I Get A DUI While Taking Ambien?

Ever since Rep. Patrick Kennedy crashed his car into a barrier near Capitol Hill in 2006, the world has been well-aware that if you are taking Ambien, there’s a chance you might get behind the wheel without realizing it. And yes, you can get a DUI if you do this in Arizona.

Image from Wikipedia

Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic drug used to treat insomnia. Its side effects include hallucinations and engaging in behaviors while you’re still asleep and having no memory of it the next day. Some of the reported behaviors are sleep walking, eating in your sleep, having sex in your sleep, and sleep-driving.

People who sleep-drive while taking Ambien are known for being erratic drivers who weave between lanes on the street, hit parked cars, and drive on the wrong side of the road.

The Arizona DUI law applies to anyone whose driving is impaired by alcohol or drugs. Ambien (zolpidem) is on the list of substances you can take and get a DUI.

But The Ambien Was Prescribed . . .
It doesn’t matter that your doctor prescribed Ambien for you. He/she didn’t tell you to take it and then drive. The drug warning specifically states that you should not be active for 7-8 hours after taking Ambien.

But I Didn’t Know What I Was Doing . . .
That may be true, but a lot of people who get drunk and then drive don’t know what they are doing either. You willingly put a substance into your body that could have undesirable side effects. One of the risks you accept when you choose to take Ambien is the low risk that you will sleep-drive and that you will have no memory of doing it.

Just as someone who is going to drink should have a plan to get home safely, you should have a plan to prevent the possibility that you will sleep-drive while taking Ambien – such as having your significant other hide your keys.

If you are arrested for DUI while taken Ambien, you could still win your case. The burden is on the prosecution to present enough evidence to the court for you to be convicted. The burden is not on you to prove your innocence. A DUI attorney can advocate for you by challenging the evidence against you, and may be able to keep some of it from being used during your trial. If the prosecution can’t prove that you violated the DUI law, you won’t be convicted.  It will also be harder to be convicted if you have a valid prescription for Ambien and you were taking it according to your doctor’s instructions.

If you have been arrested for DUI while taking Ambien, contact a lawyer for DUI at Oracle Law Group Office P.C. for assistance with your DUI case.