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Alcoholic Energy Drinks & Field Sobriety Tests


When I was in college, everyone drank beer or Jim Beam. That was before Red Bull energy drink came out and then there was a time where I couldn’t go into a bar without seeing someone drinking Red Bull and Vodka. Today, this remains a very popular drink amongst the college co-eds and young professionals. This drink allows people to drink and become more awake simultaneously. As we know, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, it makes you tired, sleepy. Red Bull and similar energy drinks are loaded with sugar and caffeine, they make a person more hyper and awake. When the two are combined, there may be a synergistic effect on the body and mind that only a medical doctor or chemist would be qualified to testify regarding the impact.

In November of 2010, several Michigan college students were hospitalized after drinking large amounts of “blackout in a can,” with blood alcohol contents as high as .35, over four times the legal limit in Texas. This incident awakened the “authorities” (pun intended), whether school, government, or medical, the message got out that there are alcoholic beverages with large amounts of caffeine being sold to the public and this product may be harmful. Since the November incident, many states have ordered these products to be stripped from the stores’ shelves. You can no longer legally sell them in Texas.

Simply because you can no longer buy these beverages, does not mean they will disappear off the face of the earth. I have seen Travis County DWI cases since alcoholic energy drinks were taken off the shelves. The dangers of caffeinated alcohol drinks are apparent. People are reaching alarmingly high BACs while being wide-awake. Normally, when someone’s body has an excessive presence of a CNS Depressant, they become lethargic, tired. Caffeine is a drug, too, a Central Nervous System (CNS) Stimulant. The combination of the two different types of drug’s effect on the body is what is called a synergistic effect.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) are designed to make the suspect fail. This has never been truer then as it applies whenever a suspect has more than one kind of drug in their body. In Texas, it is not illegal to drive after drinking. It is not illegal to drive a car in Texas after putting drugs, legal or illegal, into your body. It is only illegal to operate a motor vehicle in Texas while intoxicated. Legally, intoxicated means a person has lost the normal use of their mental or physical faculties because of the introduction of alcohol or drugs. SFSTs only received accreditation by testing subjects who had only consumed alcohol. SFSTs are only supposed to work on people who have been drinking. This means the results of the SFSTs are not reliable, certainly in the case of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN- aka “the pen test”), whenever a synergistic effect is present. The State is hard pressed to prove intoxication, particularly in these circumstances. This is true not only with alcoholic energy drinks, but also whenever a suspect has a combination of alcohol and marijuana, or alcohol and any other drug. Prosecutors may have to dismiss your DWI if they can’t prove your case.

You need a DWI lawyer who has the training, experience, and understanding of all the issues involved with your criminal case. If you or a loved one are being prosecuted for DWI, give me a call and let me fight for you.