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California police arrest a man for driving under the influence of caffeine

FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2012 file photo, a Sacramento Police Officer makes a traffic stop in Sacramento, Calif. The California Supreme Court is set to issue a ruling on police authority to conduct searches. The decision expected Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, will address police power to search people during traffic stops. At issue is whether police must first make an arrest for a traffic violation before conducting a search or can conduct a search beforehand as long as the person is later arrested, even for an unrelated crime. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

No. Really.

Joseph Schwab was driving home from work in Solano County when he allegedly cut off an agent from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Claiming Schwab was driving erratically, the officer pulled him over and gave him a breathalyzer test. The result turned up as 0.00%.

Regardless, she arrested him and took him to jail where they decided to do a blood test to see if he was on anything else. Everything in the illegal column came back negative, but it did show that Schwab had some caffeine in him. With that, California police charged Schwab with a DUI.

If you're confused as to how police could charge Schwab with a DUI for being under the influence of a substance that is literally sold to keep drivers awake and alert, you're not alone. Schwab's attorney is just as perplexed.

From The Guardian:

“I’ve never seen this before; I’ve never even heard of it.” Stacey Barrett, Schwab’s attorney said.

“I have not been provided with any evidence to support a theory of prosecution for a substance other than caffeine at this time. Nor I have received any statements, reports, etc documenting any ongoing investigation since the [toxicology report] dated 18 November 2015,” she added.

“No one believed me that I only had caffeine in my system until I showed them the lab results. I want the charges to be dismissed and my name to be cleared,” Schwab said.

She's not the only one. Even one toxicologist thinks this might be beyond the pale.

“It’s really stupid,” said Jeffrey Zehnder, a forensic toxicologist who frequently testifies in court cases. Over 41 years, Zehnder said, he had never seen a prosecution for driving under the influence of caffeine.

“If that’s the case, then they better come and arrest me,” he joked.

At this time, there are zero studies that say your driving is impaired by caffeine. In fact, it's a drink of choice for many drivers looking for that extra boost of energy for a drive, including police officers. While this case is likely to fail, the fact that an officer went through so much trouble to find fault with a guy after cutting her off probably says more about the case than anything.


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