The Ambien Defense

Imagine this… You were suffering from insomnia, so you decided to take an ambien pill. You thought it would relieve your ailment. Unfortunately, it did more than that. When you woke up, you were sleeping on a hard cement floor in the local jail. Little did you know, you were involved in a head on collision. You were going the wrong way on a one-way road and collided with an oncoming vehicle. The driver in the other vehicle died as a result of his injuries.
This is not an isolated case. There have been numerous cases with these similar facts. One case that was widely-publicized was the Congressman Patrick Kennedy case. Congressman Kennedy crashed his vehicle into a barricade on Captiol Hill in Washington D.C. A Police official arrived at the scene and stated that the Congressman appeared intoxicated. Later, it was determined that Congressman Kennedy took some Ambien pills. The Congressman said that he had no recollection of the incident.
The Ambien Defense or — also referred to as the Zombie defense — is used to show that the defendant had no knowledge of the act. Defense attorneys have used this defense which led to favorable plea bargains or, in some cases, outright acquittals. For example, in the Congressman Kennedy case, he pled guilty for driving under the influence of prescription drugs and he received one year probation and a $350 dollar fine. The prosecution dismissed the reckless driving charge and the failure to exhibit the driving permit charge. The Ambien Defense played a role in his plea bargain. However, there are some cases where the Ambien defense did not work.
Thus the law and the courts are not clear on how to deal with the Ambien Defense. There are some factors the court may consider: “(1) was the Ambien taken pursuant to the prescription? (2) was the Ambien mixed with alcohol, an illegal drug, or a drug forbidden by Ambien’s warning label? (3) did the defendant have any prior Ambien sleepwalking instances to put him on notice of the sleepwalking risks?” It is prudent to discuss with your doctor about the effects of Ambien, so you do not have to talk to an attorney about the problems that may result from the pill.