Arizona Court of Appeals rules a person can be guilty of DUI if they are impaired by Ambien, even if they did not know it would cause impairment.

3/2/16  In Arizona a person can be guilty of DUI if they are driving or in actual physical control and are impaired by alcohol, drugs or some combination thereof.


In State v. Bayless-George, the defendant was charged with driving while under the influence.  The impairing substances at issue were Ambien (which is a central nervous system depressant which acts as a sleep aid), Celexa and Benadryl, which are also central nervous system depressants.  The defendant was found gulity at trial and argued on appeal that finding her guilty of driving under the influence of Ambien was unconstitutional because she had no notice that Ambien could cause impairment.


The court of appeals held that DUI is a strict liability statute which means a defendant does not have to know that the particular drug would impair her.  A statute can be unconstitutionally vague if it does not give a person of ordinary intelligence notice of what the prohibited conduct is. The court of appeals also said the statute is not unconstitutionally vague as it clearly states a person cannot drive or be in actual physical control while impaired by drugs, alcohol or a combination thereof, and therefore the statute tells people what they cannot do and is not unconstitutional.


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