There is no legal defense in the state of California that protects you from a driving-under-the-influence charge associated with prescription-drug use. In fact, Ambien or sleeping pills is one of the top reasons why motorists are charged with intoxication today. In the eyes of the law, Ambien is just as hazardous as alcohol when it’s mixed with driving on the roads. Whether you just took Ambien or are recovering from its effects, your ability to drive is significantly diminished.

People charged with intoxication while under the influence of sleeping pills refer to their situation as an “Ambien Defense.” Ambien’s influence creates a dream-like state in drivers where they act differently than they do when completely awake. Violent behaviors have also been associated with Ambien and DUI situations.

Because Ambien takes a long time to filter out of your system, drivers are especially vulnerable to DUI charges in the morning. Although Ambien has been around since 1992, these prescription pills are slowly becoming the new age of drunk-driving charges.


There have been many publicized accounts of violent behavior while under the influence of Ambien. The Fort Hood murders in 2014 and various other assaults carried out by people who recently used Ambien have created concern over its influence on human behavior. However, there is no evidence that directly links Ambien to violent moods. Ambien can have a few side effects, such as:

• Agitation

• Confusion

• Unusual behavior

Ambien experts point to underlying causes for these violent acts instead of the drug itself. Many people taking Ambien may already have psychological problems, such as depression or anxiety. It’s these disorders that are manifesting in Ambien users when a substance charge is brought against a driver.


Ambien’s manufacturers want to continue with their successful drug in the marketplace, but regulators are watching it closely. It’s being seen more often on the streets than in years past, which creates issues when people are pulled over for poor driving habits. Ideally, regulators want to see bold and clear labels on the Ambien bottles in order to warn people of driving influences. When people take responsibility for their prescription-drug use, a criminal defense attorney shouldn’t be necessary after an innocent drive into town.

Regulators became involved when many high-profile people were being charged with intoxicated driving. In the past few years, Kerry Kennedy and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s wife were caught with Ambien in their systems as they drove in their respective neighborhoods. No one was hurt in either case, but property and reputation damage took its toll. If Ambien could affect innocent people trying to satisfy their sleeping needs, it would make anyone vulnerable on the road.

It’s critical to avoid operating any machinery if you suspect Ambien is still in your system. A charge against you requires a lawyer in order to fight certain issues, such as:

• Probation

• Suspended driver’s license

• Jail time


Before you start taking Ambien, discuss all of the potential side effects with your doctor. Your medical history is unique so your body will react to the medication in specific ways. When you first take it, avoid any driving both before and after the medication takes effect. You want to see how it affects you without harming yourself or others on the road.

There are other drugs that are similar to Ambien which should be used with caution, such as:

• Vicodin

• Sudafed

• Ativan

Each one of these medications can have serious effects on your driving abilities. In fact, they’re some of the top substances found in drivers’ systems after accidents and questionable driving techniques. You don’t want to have any moving violations on your record.

If you find yourself faced with an intoxication charge, it’s important to speak to a legal professional immediately following the incident. With the charges fresh in your mind, your lawyer can create a defense that works for you.


Contact criminal defense and driving-under-the-influence attorney Scott Henry today at 888-900-0951. He is part of the Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange County’s leading DUI defense law firm. With our top lawyer defending your case, you’ll be able to move past your intoxication charge and hit the open road again.