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Driving Under the Influence Because of Insomnia Medications?

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Out of the 200,000 people arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in California every year, many are driving under the influence of drugs. California Vehicle Code section 23152 states that it is unlawful for an individual to drive or operate a motor vehicle while under the influence or drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both.

This does not mean the drugs need to be marijuana, cocaine or some other form of illicit drug. Any type of drug that alters or otherwise impairs an individual’s thinking and reaction times will suffice, causing you to potentially be arrested for driving under the influence in California.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has just released a new set of guidelines for the extremely popular sleeping pill Ambien.sAmbien is distributed by Sanofi and sold in other forms as Edluar by Meda Pharmaceauticals and Zolpimist by NovaDel Pharma. The active ingredient for all of these sleep medications is zolpidem. However, many other sleep aid medications that do not contain zolpidem can also have the same side effects.

Due to new studies confirming that zolpidem stays in patient’s system longer than initially thought, the FDA is requesting that doctors reduce the recommended dosage from ten milligrams to five milligrams in women. If the drug is in the extended release form, the dosage should be reduced from 12.5 milligrams to 6.25 milligrams. Due to the fact that the drug is slow to metabolize.sThe FDA is also asking doctors to consider reducing the dosage for men, as well.

The studies have revealed that the estimated 40 million people who take sleeping pills are at risk of injuring themselves and others due to morning drowsiness. Many people taking Ambien showed significant zolpidem blood levels the day after taking the medication, which could impair thinking, reaction times, and the ability to drive or operate machinery.

Dr. Carol Ash at Meridian Health in New Jersey stated that driving to work for many patients the day after taking the medication is “essentially like driving drunk.” She also warned of the addictive nature of the insomnia drugs and urged the millions who take them to seek alternative solutions.

If you are stopped and the police officer feels that you are “impaired,” you can just as easily receive a DUI for taking Ambien or some other prescribed insomnia drug. It is no different than having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. The fines, penalties, driver’s license suspension and other attendant costs attached to a DUI charge will be the same even though you had not had a sip of alcohol to drink.


If you or someone you know has gotten a California DUI, you need to seek the advice of a criminal defense lawyer experienced in handling DUI cases.s

Ronald N. Hoffman, with Hoffman & Associates, has almost 40 years of experience helping the citizens of Los Angeles and San Diego fight their DUI charges.

Contact us through the website or call (323) 655-3900, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for a free consultation.

Our firm accepts all major credit cards, debit cards, checks and money orders, as well as having several other payment plans.

Other Resources:

Sleep doctor on sleep aid morning after: “Like driving drunk”, CBS This Morning, January 11, 2013

Related Blog Posts:

Can Someone Get A DUI While Taking Prescription Medications?, Los Angeles DUI Lawyer Blog, December 12, 2012

Can I get Arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana?
, Los Angeles DUI Lawyer Blog, December 4, 2012

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