Excessive Coffee is No Grounds for DUI. Please, Let’s Move On.

No need to worry about a coffee DUIIt was a tempest in a coffee pot. Much ado about 0.0% blood alcohol level.  Making Jamaica Blue Mountain out of a molehill.

It all started when a motorist named Joseph Schwab was pulled over after he cut off a police officer on the road.  Suspecting impairment, the officer tested Schwab’s breath, but the breathalyzer revealed a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of zero.

The officer thought that some other drug might have caused the suspect’s aggressive driving, so she booked him for DUI and took him to the station, where a blood draw would give a conclusive answer.

That answer turned out to be an embarrassment to all concerned: the only drug in Schwab’s blood was caffeine. The state decided to pursue the case, unfortunately, using the rationale that caffeine is, after all, a drug. The prosecution suspected that another drug was involved, but nothing but caffeine was found.

If it sounds shaky, it was, and eventually the coffee DUI charge was dropped.

Before it was dropped, social media erupted with articles by coffee drinkers outraged that their favorite beverage was being maligned. Being pursued for a coffee DUI is no joke when you have a five-up-a-day habit.

Amusing as it is, the episode was unfortunate, because it distracted a lot of us from the real issues. Caffeine might be a drug, and drinking too much coffee could make you jittery and perhaps a bad driver.  But pursuing cases like these makes it harder to take genuine efforts against DUI seriously.

Of course, stories like these never die, and some people believe that their precious lattes are under attack. It simply isn’t true. You are safe to sip and drive, as long as it’s coffee.