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Prosecutor drops DUI charge after tests find only caffeine

Drunk driving charges against a 36-year-old California man were dropped on Dec. 28 when a Solano County prosecutor admitted that she had no hope of winning the case. Police say that the man was weaving in and out of busy traffic and almost caused several accidents before they pulled his vehicle over in August 2015, and they suspected that he was under the influence of drugs when they saw several health supplements and powders in his car. However, subsequent blood tests discovered only caffeine in his system.

Officers say that they took the man into custody after he performed poorly during a series of standard field sobriety tests. He provided a blood sample after being transported to a nearby police facility, but tests for a plethora of drugs including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and oxycodone were all negative. The only substance discovered in the man's blood was caffeine, and all of the supplements and powders found in his vehicle proved to be legal.

The case drew widespread media attention, but the Solano County District Attorney's Office remained convinced that the man was impaired by a substance that their comprehensive tests had failed to discover. Reports indicate that the DUI charge was finally dropped only after forensic toxicologists and investigators convinced the prosecutor involved that the case could not be won. These conversations took place more than 16 months after the man was charged.

This case demonstrates how prosecutors can be swayed by the statements of police officers even when they are not backed up by compelling evidence, but judges and juries are generally more difficult to impress. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may seek to have drunk driving charges reduced or dismissed when police reports indicate that law enforcement officers may have crossed lines clearly established by the U.S. Constitution or toxicology tests appear to have been administered improperly or have failed to provide conclusive results.

Source: KCRA News 3, DA drops DUI charge for man who tested positive for caffeine, Sarah Heise, Dec. 29, 2016

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