Involuntary Intoxication And “Blackout” As A Defense To Drunk Driving In California

By: Wallin & Klarich

There is a legal debate related to whether an individual who commits a crime while in a “blackout” should be held as accountable for their actions as an individual who committed the same act while sober. The laws specifically disallow voluntary intoxication as a defense in criminal court. However, involuntary intoxication (prescribed medications, being slipped something by someone else, etc.), often is a valid defense.

DUI suspects who were in a blackout state represent a difficult legal challenge. Although a suspect’s conduct may be extremely out of character; it can be very difficult, for another person to recognize that the individual is experiencing a blackout and will not recall these events later. This can seriously complicate a DUI trial in which the defendant does not remember what he or she did.

Many prosecutors will assert that memory loss or blackout is simply a convenient and unreliable excuse for drunk driving. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney and defense expert may counter that certain drugs (such as Ambien and GHB) often cause symptoms completely consistent with involuntary intoxication. Often, law enforcement and medical personnel are not properly trained in handling these cases. An experienced DUI defense attorney may argue that law enforcement lacked proper training which lead to an incomplete initial investigation and subsequent arrest.

A drunk driving charge under California Vehicle Code 23152 is a serious matter that requires extensive knowledge of the applicable rights and procedures involved. It is therefore imperative that you seek the legal assistance of an experienced DUI defense attorney who can help you raise the best possible defenses in your case. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have been helping people fight DUI charges for over 30 years. Call us today at 888-280-6839 or visit us online at We will be there for you when you call.

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