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Is being asleep the same as being intoxicated?

In the eyes on one Michigan jury, the answer is yes. A woman was arrested after numerous witnesses saw her driving recklessly in Plainfield. When deputies tested her, there was no sign of alcohol in her system. Nonetheless, the officers believed she was under the influence of a drug, as she failed the field sobriety tests she attempted.

She and her attorney argued that she was not drunk and that she suffered from "sleep driving." It was caused by her taking of the drug Ambien, a sleep-aid drug. She claimed she had been sick with the flu at the time and had taken the drug to catch up on the sleep she had lost due to the illness. She said the morning of the incident she had taken Ambien, went to bed and the next thing she knew, she was being fingerprinted.

Prosecutors argued she should have known the potential effects of the drug before taking it. Of course, that argument is nonsense, given the fact that the woman took the drug to sleep and had no volitional control over any of her actions after ingesting the drug.

The warnings on the drug's website or literature accompanying the prescription are hardly meaningful. Telling a person who is unconscious that they should remain in bed is pointless, and simply printing a warning label should not protect the drug maker from the effects of their drug.

Ambien has been the subject of numerous court cases, involving activities like sleep-driving, sleep-walking and sleep-eating to list a few. Patrick Kennedy used such arguments after a late-night accident and others have been involved in car crashes or DUI arrests attributed to Ambien.

The woman's attorney indicated she may appeal the verdict.

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