What is Ambien?
Ambien, also known by its generic name Zolpidem, is a sedative-hypnotic prescription drug most commonly used to treat insomnia. Ambien is known to cause anterograde amnesia, which means that users will often not remember any events that occur while under the effects of the drug. A danger of Ambien is that you may perform certain daily tasks without realizing it. This includes driving, which can result in an Ambien DUI.
What is an Ambien DUI?
Ambien, along with other sleeping aid medications like Lunesta, is a Schedule IV controlled substance according to the DEA. Driving while under the effects of Ambien is considered driving under the influence, also known as a DUI. According to a recent case in New Jersey, it has been argued that users of Ambien should be aware of the potential side effects, as Ambien has been on the market for quite some time. Ambien warns users about the dangers of driving while using the drug as well as the drug’s ability to amplify the effects of alcohol. New Jersey also does not generally give credence to involuntary DUI, also known as pathological intoxication, as a defense. Arguing such a defense is challenging and requires an experienced lawyer.
Unlike with alcohol, you do not have to submit to various tests like breathalyzer as there is no implied consent. This does not apply if you used a sleeping aid and alcohol at the same time. If you are found in possession of illegally obtained Ambien you will also face separate charges for that.
What Are the Penalties for an Ambien DUI?
The penalties an individual may face if convicted of driving while under the influence of Ambien or another prescription sleeping aid depends on whether you have any previous DUI charges against you. If you are convicted, the penalties can include the following:
- First Offense
- Jail time up to 30 days
- License suspension for between 7 to 12 months
- Fines between $600-$800
- A state motor vehicle surcharge of $1,000 per year for 3 years
- Second Offense
- Jail time between 2 to 90 days
- License suspension for 2 years
- Fines of up to $1,000
- A surcharge of $1,000 per year for 3 years
- Third or Higher Offense
- Jail time of up to 180 days
- License suspension for 10 years
- Fines in excess of $1,000
- A surcharge of $1,500 per year for 3 years
Do You Need Help With an Ambien DUI Case?
DUI cases with prescription drugs not only do not have implied consent, but they also are more complicated to test for. The level of a prescription drug in a person’s system does not accurately correlate to level of intoxication, especially for drugs that stay in the bloodstream long after the effects have worn off. If the police did not have a drug recognition expert administer your drug test, that evidence may be inadmissible. However, because involuntary intoxication is not a solid defense in New Jersey, it is important to have a knowledgeable lawyer on your side. If you or someone you know is facing an Ambien DUI charge in New Jersey, contact Schneider Freiberger today.