Consuming Caffeine Illegal in California?

January 16, 2017

Nearly 55% of Americans drink coffee every single day. Furthermore, the average American consumes 3.1 cups of coffee per day, according to So, how is it that a California man is facing criminal charges for being “intoxicated” on caffeine?


The California resident, a 36-year-old man, was pulled over on August 5, 2015 on Interstate 680 by an agent with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The agent was driving an unmarked vehicle and asserted that the 36-year-old had cut her off and was driving erratically, according to Yahoo News.


The state agent administered a breathalyzer test that displayed a 0.00% blood alcohol level. At this point, you would assume the driver would be let go, maybe with a warning about the importance of properly changing lanes.




After the breathalyzer, the 36-year-old driver was arrested and taken to county jail. There, he had his blood taken for another toxicology test. The test concluded that he had no illegal drugs in his system.


It did not end there. His blood samples were sent to an outside testing facility in Pennsylvania which showed that caffeine was in the driver’s system when he was arrested. Despite overwhelming evidence that the driver was not intoxicated, the driver was charged with reckless driving and misdemeanor DUI, according to the Washington Times.


District Attorney Steps in to End Case


Prosecutors within the District Attorney’s Office are not dumb. They know that under California law, a drug, for the purposes of a DUI charge, is defined as any substance that is not alcohol that might “impair, to an appreciable degree” a driver’s capability behind the wheel. The DA’s office probably recognized fairly quickly that a DUI charge on the basis of consuming caffeine (which is present in coffee, tea, Red Bull, chocolate, etc.) was baseless.


The district attorney for Solano County released a statement making clear that driving under the influence is not based upon the presence of caffeine in a driver’s system.


“After further consideration, without a confirmatory test of the specific drug in the defendant’s system that impaired his ability to drive, we do not believe we can prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt,” said District Attorney Krishna Abrams, according to


Stand Up for Your Rights


The takeaway from this bizarre story is to stand up for your rights and not let the state government walk all over you. Just because you are charged for allegedly breaking the law does not mean you are guilty. You should retain an experienced Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer and require the government to prove its case in court, where it has the burden to prove the criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt.


The actions of the agent working for the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control are reprehensible. Consider the amount of time and resources expended on the “caffeine DUI case” that could have been better served working on other cases.


Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Ready to Help You


The Law Offices of Peter Berlin is ready to help you and your loved one if you are facing criminal charges in California. With over two decades of experience representing Californians in criminal defense cases, we know what it takes to provide a strong defense against any charge. Contact us today: (310) 289-5418.