California Man Fights Caffeine-Based DUI Charge

Joseph Schwab was pulled over, drug-tested, and charged with a DUI even though the only “drug” in his system was coffee
Caffeine is technically a drug, but that’s neither here nor there.


Caffeine is technically a drug, but that’s neither here nor there.

One man is vehemently fighting a DUI charge after being pulled over in Solano County, California. Apparently, the only influence he was under was a lot of coffee.

The man, Joseph Schwab, was pulled over in July 2015 for driving erratically, and now he is going to trial to fight the DUI charge and misdemeanor with evidence from a blood test that only came back positive for caffeine. Solano County’s District Attorney office maintains that Schwab was not given the misdemeanor based on the presence of caffeine in his bloodstream, The Guardian reported.

“I’ve never seen this before,” said Schwab’s defense attorney, Stacey Barret, in a prepared statement. “I’ve never even heard of it. I have not been provided with any evidence to support a theory of prosecution for a substance other than caffeine at this time.”

The DA office said it was “conducting a further investigation” into the charge.


This begs the question: Can driving while “under the influence” of a strong cup of Starbucks joe put you at risk for a DUI charge? In California, where the laws on the subject are ambiguous, it’s technically possible. Drugs in a DUI charge are defined as “any substance other than alcohol that could affect your nervous system, brain or muscles.” Caffeine’s effects impact the nervous system, so under California law, Schwab may be out of luck.