DWI CASE RESULT INVOLVING PRESCRIPTION DRUGS – FINAL VERDICT: NOT GUILTY
Roy (not his real name) was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), ADHD, severe anxiety disorder and panic attacks. He was on a regimen of Adderall and a small amount of Klonopin at 6 am and 2 pm each day. These 2 drugs operate on different portions of the brain and are metabolized by different enzymes in the liver. A simple Google search reveals that these medications are sometimes prescribed to individuals such as Roy. The Adderall helps with focus and concentration while the Klonopin helps ease anxiety and the chance of a panic attack.
Roy was in a fender-bender around 4 pm on the day of his arrest. He rear-ended another car and he and the other driver exchanged insurance information. There were also photos of both cars on Roy’s phone.
Roy was pulled over around 1:30am by a police officer who claimed he was “weaving”. Roy reacted immediately and pulled into a parking lot. His reactions to the officer seemed unusual. The officer thought he might be high on drugs. He had him get out of the car and perform SFST’s despite the fact that he smelled no alcohol and the SFST’s are only validated for alcohol intoxication. Roy’s balance was not great and he was arrested for DWI despite scoring 0 clues on the HGN. He had told the officer that he took his medicine at 6 am and 2 pm as prescribed. He even tried to explain that he was having trouble with his car alignment due to the accident and showed the officer photos of both cars. The officer was still convinced he was intoxicated.
Roy declined a blood test so a warrant was obtained and his blood was drawn. The results showed no ethanol, a small amount of amphetamine and a very small amount of clonazepam. Both medications were in a very low therapeutic level.
At trial the State called two analysts from DPS Austin. One testified she performed the analysis for amphetamine and reported the result. The level was in the low therapeutic range, matched up to Roy’s story about what meds he took and when and she could not testify that the amount in his blood would have impaired him.
The second analyst, who has a bachelor’s in biochemistry, did the analysis for clonazepam. Once again, the amount was in the low therapeutic range. An attempt was made by the State to have this highly unqualified individual with no formal training in pharmacology make some sort of argument that there was a synergistic effect when you take a CNS depressant and a stimulant. His lack of knowledge about these two specific drugs was easy to impeach as well as his lack of preparation for trial. He had done no research on Adderall and Klonopin and had not even bothered to watch the video.
Roy’s diagnosing psychologist testified about his various conditions. He had watched the video and went step by step through it pointing out behavior that is consistent with individuals suffering from Roy’s mental health issues.
Dr. Gary Wimbish testified that Roy’s behavior on the video, combined with the very low levels of therapeutic medicines remaining in his system, revealed something going on outside the field of toxicology.
We argued that Roy’s behavior was based on his medications wearing off as opposed to impairing him.
The jury was back in 12 minutes with a Not Guilty verdict.
Trial Counsel: Deandra Grant & Sandra Reynolds