Does caffeine really qualify as an intoxicating drug when it comes to driving and crashes? Ask most people this question and you’re likely to get a variety of responses ranging from complete denial to boisterous agreement. For one California driver, a 2015 traffic stop put the question to the test.
Driver Joseph Schwab, who was pulled over by an alcohol enforcement officer after he allegedly drove erratically and cut the officer off, was given a field sobriety test because the officer believed he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When Schwab denied the claims, he was given a Breathalyzer test that also confirmed a 0.00 percent blood alcohol level. Convinced that the driver was intoxicated, he was then booked into the county jail so that a blood test could be run. The secondary testing method also failed to show any results.
Despite the fact that two individual tests had yet to show any intoxicants, law enforcement officials ordered a third and more thorough test at a laboratory. The only substance to show up was caffeine—something often found in the blood of most, if not all, early morning drivers throughout America.
The District Attorney attempted to press a case based on caffeine intoxication, citing the fact that the officer found a variety of powdered caffeine packets in Schwab's vehicle upon his arrest. Nearly eighteen months passed as the driver awaited his trial. In December 2016, the prosecution dropped the charge and pressed a new charge of reckless driving instead. Schwab has yet to plead guilty or innocent to the new charge against him.
Although the driver likely won’t face any charges regarding being under the influence of caffeine, there is a chance that his dangerous driving will result in other charges. This is something you should consider each and every time you get behind the wheel. Even too much caffeine can be dangerous for both you and anyone else on the road.