Raising The Defense Of Involuntary Intoxication In A DUI Case

Posted on: 21 April 2015


Driving while intoxicated is a serious crime. The risk to public safety an intoxicated driver presents is so strong, prosecutors vigorously go after impaired drivers. What if you are drugged without your knowledge? Here is where the legal issue of "involuntary intoxication" arises. Only a very experienced and skilled DUI case lawyer is truly capable enough to successfully argue involuntary intoxication as a defense.

Involuntary Intoxication Defined

Involuntary intoxication is exactly what its name describes. Essentially, a person may be deemed free from liability from an act committed while severely intoxicated if he/she did not willingly and knowingly ingest the mind-altering substance.

For example, a person may be drinking diet soda at a club when an ill-intentioned individual secretly pours GHB into the glass. An hour later, while under the influence of the drug, the driver passes out, causes a fatal accident, and is charged with a felony DUI. Looking to the state of California, we can see an example of a clear-cut statute that would provide the drugged person with a legitimate and viable defense. California Penal Code section 24 clearly states involuntary intoxication frees a person from culpability for a criminal act. 

A question does emerge. How is such a defense going to be mounted?

Submitting Medical Evidence for a Defense 

As with any other criminal charge, DUI must be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt in order to deliver a conviction. Presenting the medical history of someone who tests positive for GHB or another powerful sedative might create a reasonable doubt. Submitting medical records revealing a serious heart condition is one possibility. The jury would have to believe the person was willing to risk cardiac arrest by using a dangerous drug. 

Granted, an extensive history of drug use would, surely, indicate someone is interested in taking such risks. Yet, if medical and mental health records show no indication of prior drug use, the notion the person did not willfully take drugs the night of the accident becomes more credible.

Presenting Other Documentary Evidence

The accused may be employed in a job in which mandatory, unannounced drug testing is required. Supervisors could be required to report any behavior possibly related to substance abuse to upper management. If the defendant submits a pristine personnel record and previous clean drug tests, a pattern of non-substance abusing behavior is being established.

Arguing for the Submission of Evidence

A prosecutor could attempt to bar the admissibility of potentially exculpatory peripheral evidence. Consider this the main reason why you must hire a very experienced criminal defense attorney like Druyon Law. The strength and compelling nature of the defense attorney's argument could be the only thing that sways the judge to render a decision in your favor.