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Failure to Warn about SSRIs & Alcohol
  1. #31
    DUIMAVEN is offline New Member
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    On Wednesday, I handled a case involving DUI, reckless driving, running a stop sign, weaving, crossing the center line, failure to yield to emergency equipment. My client took his domestic partner's Ambien due to being out of his usual over-the-counter medication.

    He took two 10-mg Ambien at 11:30 PM, and was pulled over at 1:00 AM, 90 minutes later. His last recollection was sitting in bed, watching the Letterman monologue.

    Total blackout, but drove car (totally without being aware of driving).

    Judge heard case (no jury) and ruled him "not guilty" of all charges. Video after the traffic stop showed classic signs of Ambien overdose (confusion, dizziness, disorientation, amnesia), but he lacked slurred speech.

    In Georgia, the person MUST intend to drive, and the judge was convinced that he did not intend to drive.

    This is a valid legal defense, and alcohol need not be a synergistic culprit.
    Last edited by Anonymous; 01-18-2016 at 03:07 PM.

  2. #32
    Miles is offline Member
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    DUIMAVEN:

    Had your client killed another driver or a pedestrian during his/her drug-induced state, would he/she still have walked because of the absence of intent? Where is personal responsibility in that decision? Also, was your client charged with consumption of an Rx that was not his/hers?

    It is no wonder Americans are fed up with their judicial system given such decisions as this. (Are Circuit judges in Georgia elected by popular vote?)

    Miles

  3. #33
    DUIMAVEN is offline New Member
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    The issue is not how to substitute judges that suit you, and ignore the Constitution. The issue is that the person never INTENDED to get in a car at all, much less drive anywhere. It is just like sleepwalking.

    Check out the excellent article on Ambien in the New York Times that was published yesterday. Stephanie Saul, a staff writer recounts numerous amnesia cases that happened within a home. This one went outside, into a car.

    If he had run over someone, then YES he was NOT GUILTY. He formed no intent to drive. The death would have been the result of an unexpected and unpredictable loss of conscious thought and action during this time period. Fortunately, an alert police officer pulled him over and got him off the road before a disaster happened.


    quote:Originally posted by Miles

    DUIMAVEN:

    Had your client killed another driver or a pedestrian during his/her drug-induced state, would he/she still have walked because of the absence of intent? Where is personal responsibility in that decision? Also, was your client charged with consumption of an Rx that was not his/hers?

    It is no wonder Americans are fed up with their judicial system given such decisions as this. (Are Circuit judges in Georgia elected by popular vote?)

    Miles
    William C. Head
    Attorney at Law
    DUIMAVEN
    Last edited by Anonymous; 01-18-2016 at 03:07 PM.

  4. #34
    Miles is offline Member
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    DUIMAVEN:

    The logic re "intent" still seems a bit fuzzy to me. A quantifiable demarcation point must exist in the law that, once crossed, would support the intent argument. Where may that line be drawn with respect to drug-taking behavior?

    Regards,
    Miles

  5. #35
    DUIMAVEN is offline New Member
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    Default FDA Requires Sleep Drugs Companies to Amend Labels

    I looked back over this thread of acrimonious replies and wondered if all the critics of my earlier postings saw the news about FDA requiring new warnings from the various manufacturers of "sleep drugs" about the risks of "sleepdriving" after taking their nightly medications. Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island would certainly be a believer, after his March 2005 "incident" in Washington, DC.

    Never once has anyone come to my office and said "I took these drugs and KNOWINGLY went driving afterward." LACK of intent to get behind the wheel is a viable and valid defense, at least in a criminal case.

    Clearly, some medications have a higher reported incidence, and the dose does matter. However, numerous people have had NO ALCOHOL before or with their medication and still experienced the sleepdriving phenomenon.
    Last edited by Anonymous; 01-18-2016 at 03:07 PM.
    William C. Head
    Attorney at Law
    DUIMAVEN

  6. #36
    Miles is offline Member
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    [QUOTE=DUIMAVEN;183924]Never once has anyone come to my office and said "I took these drugs and KNOWINGLY went driving afterward." LACK of intent to get behind the wheel is a viable and valid defense, at least in a criminal case.

    DUIMAVEN:

    Have you had anyone come into your office and "KNOWINGLY" admit to taking the meds? Of course you have! It's hard for me to believe that unless someone in the US who has been in living under a rock his/her entire life would NOT know the risks associated with the meds you enumerate. Are we a nation of lemmings... sheep? Again, is there no personal responsibility here at all? Make me the judge! I'll dole out justice for sure! No argument for the medicalization of the problem of ignorance would pass muster in my court! If one takes a med regardless of its therapeutic classification, then gets into a motor vehicle and drives and kills someone, that person will not walk!

    As far as the credibility of the FDA, I trust Steven Glass, the New Republic reporter, more than the agent of the Therapeutic State know as the FDA! It has absolutely no credibility with me.

  7. #37
    noe67 is offline New Member
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    Yah no kidding Wake-UP!

  8. #38
    noe67 is offline New Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by DUIMAVEN View Post
    This is my first message, but an important topic.

    As a criminal defense attorney, I see hundreds of clients annually who obtain medications from their physician for anxiety, sleep disorders or depression, yet are not warned to consume NO ALCOHOL when taking these medications. The synergistic effects caused by combining ANY amount of alcohol and these drugs can be devastating for the patient who is surprised to find himself or herself in jail for DUI-DWI, or even vehicular homicide. Blackout, seizures or major amnesia episodes are common. Effexor is currently involved with three of my clients, with others using various common SSRIs and benzodiazepines.

    See my recent article that was published in the DWI Journal, warning attorneys to be aware of this phenomenon. A safe practice for physicians would be to warn every patient not to drink alcohol while on these medications. You should draw up a written acknowledgement for any patient being given these medications indicating that the patient has been told to consume NO ALCOHOL while taking these medications. Have each patient sign the ackowledgement.

    DUIMAVEN
    no warning? come on.
    Last edited by Anonymous; 01-18-2016 at 03:08 PM.

  9. #39
    JohnnyW is offline New Member
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    I am shocked by sickened by the individuals here who are attempting to demonise the two criminal lawyers here trying to raise awareness of the dangers of mixing SSRIs and alcohol.

    Firstly, they say they are CRIMINAL lawyers and not CIVIL laywers.

    Secondly, they are NOT blaming the pharmacutical companies, they have simply stated that they would like to see doctors make patients sign a written confirmation that they understand what is already written in the small print. I.e. They acknowledge that the warning is there.

    Thirdly, this post has already been filled by those who have claimed to have had the experiences they are talking about. Are these people lying or do those who wish to call the lawyers liars simply deliberately ignoring them?

    My first marriage came to an abrupt end thanks to my wife's intolerable personality while drunk. It was horrendous and I simply thought it was an alcohol problem. Of course there's a difference between having an alcohol problem (getting drunk for self-medication's sake) and having an alcohol problem where you behave unusually erratic.

    My fiance is the most sensible normal person I've ever known. Even when drunk. She's a pleasant, happy drunk and only drinks on rare occassions. After she started on SSRIs, she was shocked to discovered she had DRIVEN herself home after getting drunk. The next morning she was so ashamed and shocked by her behaviour. She had NEVER done anything like that before.

    YES! The SSRIs include warnings not to drink. BUT! We all, as adults, trust that we know where our limits are. This was a pretty extreme reaction and one that could have ended with a DUI or even vehicular homocide.

    FYI, the reason, and if you'd actually bothered to do some research you'd know this, that the "do not drink" small print exists is this: Alcohol can prevent SSRIs from working.

    We all trust ourselves that we'd NEVER drink and drive (I've certainly never done it and my fiance hadn't done it before -- or since that night) - but this normally active "sensible" section of the brain seems to be deactivated.

    That night was several years ago. More recently my fiance has been placed back on anti-depressants. She is also socially active and enjoys a drink. Unfortunately we've discovered that the mixture of SSRIs and alcohol changes her normally amicable personality into someone that isn't her, but rather is identical to the personality that my wife exhibited when she was drunk.

    It's been a scary and horrible experience for us both and I think some online help or prior warnings about HOW SSRIs and alcohol can affect people's personalities is a GOOD IDEA.

    IF I am approached by any lawyer as a result of this post, I will come back and admit that these lawyers have ulterior motives. But please kindly go take a long walk off a short pier if you're about to tell me my own personal experiences are "LIES" or "mis-understandings". I know precisely what I'm talking about and know the experiences and personalities involved. You do not.

    I am NOT interested is perusing ANY legal action as a result of this. Period.
    Last edited by Anonymous; 08-03-2008 at 06:54 AM.

  10. #40
    Miles is offline Member
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    "...they are NOT blaming the pharmacutical companies, they have simply stated that they would like to see doctors make patients sign a written confirmation that they understand what is already written in the small print. I.e. They acknowledge that the warning is there."

    Yeah, I'll support such an inane idea when Americans begin signing a "written confirmation that they understand what is...written in the" US Constitution. Yours and the attorneys idea is perhaps the most insulting I have read on this site...insulting to to any freedom-loving person. Sheez, another person wishing to impose his morality on the rest of us as if we are all sheep who have lost our (moral) in the journey of life, a tough one indeed.

  11. #41
    Just_Jason is offline New Member
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    Default Reckless endangerment anyone?

    Quote Originally Posted by DUIMAVEN View Post
    ... My client took his domestic partner's Ambien due to being out of his usual over-the-counter medication.
    We as individuals have a responsibility to ensure we don't take dangerous cocktails (or amounts) of pharmaceuticals. Dangerous can be defined in both the direct danger posed to us as individuals, and the danger we pose to others, such as blacking out and driving.

    So my question for anyone that cries foul when slapped with a DUI under similar circumstances are as follows:

    1) Was the prescription for you?
    2) How did you decide on the amount of the other persons medication to take?
    3) Did you speak to a doctor regarding dosing options for the prescription medication?
    4) Did you make yourself aware of the possible side effects before taking the medication? (this is easily found online)

    Near as I can tell the answer to each question would be no. Gross negligence at the least. I think DUI was a fitting charge. Too bad he got off on a technicality. I'm sure many alcoholics in GA who drive during a blackout will love that defense. In their case they have an addiction, they have a more difficult time not consuming their drug. In your clients case that was just irresponsible behavior.

    -- Jason
    Last edited by Anonymous; 11-06-2009 at 12:36 AM. Reason: rephrased

  12. #42
    Just_Jason is offline New Member
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    Default Not affixed? or clients "fixing" the evidence?

    Quote Originally Posted by DUIMAVEN View Post
    ...I can tell you that some labels do NOT get affixed.
    Technically possible, but highly suspicious...


    Why?

    A bit of my history first...

    I've been on medications for a nasty ailment since I was 12. I am currently 38 years old. I do not recall a single instance of the pharmacy mislabeling or forgetting to apply warning labels to my medication. That doesn't mean it never happens to others. it just means that out of *at least* 312 bottles of one medication or another (more likely 500+) over 26 years, I've never noticed the absence of a warning label...

    The conclusion...

    From personal experience, I doubt the frequency of actual pharmacist error is as high as what your client base would otherwise suggest. You may wish to also examine your clients bottles for adhesive residue and small scratches. Evidence of those may indicate your client has tampered with what you will undoubtedly enter into evidence and removed the warning label(s).

    -- Jason

  13. #43
    rMavericKg is offline New Member
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    If you're on any kind of medication...why would you have a drink? You should ask your healthcare provider (Dr., pharmacist, nurse, etc) if it is ok to have a drink while on anything. As a general rule, you should NEVER drink while on medication as it can reduce the therapeutic effects of the drug, cause synergistic effects, or simply make it not work. If you can't give up the bottle then you need further help than originally thought.

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