DUI Defense – Medical vs. Intoxication

11Apr12

Defendant charged with DUI with injury and related offenses was entitled to sua sponte instruction under Penal Code Sec. 26, which exempts from criminal responsibility persons who committed the act charged “without being conscious thereof,” where there was evidence supporting defendant’s theory that he could not be found guilty because the reason he crossed double yellow lines and collided with the victims’ vehicle was due to his low blood sugar, causing him to pass out, and not to being under the influence. Trial judge erred in giving CALCRIM No. 2100–the last sentence of which reads, “If the defendant was under the influence of a drug, then it is not a defense that something else also impaired his ability to drive a vehicle”–where it might have misled jury into believing that unconsciousness is not a defense to the violation of law or failure of duty element of DUI with injury. Combined impact of instructional errors was prejudicial under any standard.      People v. Wells

For all of you taking prescription medication, this ruling does not mean you can pass out due to medication versus alcohol.  What it means is that if you pass out due to something non alcohol or drug related, such information as a possible defense in a DUI case.

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