Overcaffeinated California Driver Arrested for DUI Finally Exonerated

"I was confident the whole time I wasn't on anything."

Photo Credit: warunee singlee / Shutterstock

Joseph Schwab, 36, was pulled over on interstate 680 and charged with driving while intoxicated.

The driver was "weaving in and out of traffic, almost causing several collisions" according to the Alcohol Beverage Control agent who pulled over Schwab in August 2015.

“The driver seemed very amped up, very agitated, very combative, and she thought he was under the influence of something,” Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams added. 

But the only drug in Schwab's system was caffeine as proven by the blood test Schwab took from the jail. 

"I was confident the whole time I wasn't on anything," the defendant told KCRA. 

Still, it took more than 16 months to reverse the charge.

"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," District Attorney Krishna Abrams announced on December 29. 

California Law describes a drug as any non-alcoholic substance that might "impair" driving capabilities "to an appreciable degree."

Schwab's defense attorney, Stacey Barrett was astounded. 

“I’ve never seen this before,” she told the Guardian. 

Forensic toxicologist Jeffrey Zehnder had also witnessed a case like Schwab's, after four decades of testifying in court cases. 

“It’s really stupid,” said Zehnder. "They better come and arrest me,” he joked.

Caffeine is the number one "nootropic" brain drug in Silicon Valley. 

But with this logic, "you could arrest almost every person in California," Young Turks host Cenk Uygur pointed out. "Almost all of them have had a cup of coffee before getting in their car to drive to work." 


Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018