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Ambien and DUIs in Arizona

Interviewer: What kind of defense would you give someone or what kind of game plan would you have for someone that had a DUI with Ambien?

The Properties of Ambien Make It Difficult to Prove Intent to Drive While Impaired

Brian: Actually, there is a case that came out from the Arizona court of appeal on an Ambien situation.  Ambien is known for contributing to sleep driving so that can be an issue.  A person doesn’t necessarily have to intentionally drive or be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but a person needs to be aware of what they are doing.  The law is to punish someone who has control over their own body, who knows what’s going on and that’s where Ambien comes into play because basically the person meant to go to sleep.

They took the Ambien because they meant to go to sleep.  The next thing they realize is that an officer has pulled them over and they have been driving.  People have been found wearing their slippers and in their nightgowns on Ambien and having no clue how they were out there driving, where they were going, what they were doing.  Their intention was to sleep.  That’s usually the first concern with an Ambien type of case.

Other issues can concern taking medication as prescribed.  It truly did not impair someone.  This is someone who’s been on the medication for years.  People know how they react to the Ambien.  Sometimes people, they take their Ambien.  They know that it takes about a half an hour to kick in so they’ll go and get a burger.

They know that it’s going to take five minutes to go get a burger and ten minutes to get back after they’ve ordered.  But unfortunately they get pulled over in the meantime and all of the sudden, the Ambien’s kicking in. The symptoms of impairment start to show themselves while they’re with the officer.

Sometimes explaining that sort of thing to the prosecutor, explaining that sort of thing to the jury, looking into how they went about testing it, there can be some issues with doing blood tests on Ambien.  There can be some issues with doing urine tests on Ambien.  It is really a case by case specific.

If Drug Use Is Attributed to a Fatal Accident, Will a Felony Charge Be Leveled against the Driver?

Interviewer: Let’s talk about a worst case scenario.  Let’s say there’s a fatal accident and it shows that there is medicine in someone’s blood.  Will that be automatically a felony?

Brian: In Maricopa County, most probably.  Anyone who is alleged to be under the influence of any sort of drugs or alcohol or vapor-releasing substances or medications where someone has been injured is likely to find themselves charged with aggravated assault, possibly endangerment and possibly looking at five to fifteen years in prison.

Before 2013, a Driver’s License Would Not Be Suspended through the Arizona DMV if the Driver Had a Valid Prescription for Medication and was Charged with a DUI

Interviewer: As far as the medical DUI that we’ve talked about, how are drug use allegations differ from alcohol use in a DMV hearing?

Brian: It used to be handled quite a bit differently.  The Motor Vehicles Division will suspend your license for being suspected of DUI.  They will suspend it for 90 days simply for being suspected, regardless of whether it is drugs, medications or alcohol.  It used to be that if you had a prescription for your medications, you could not have your license suspended for the 90 days for being suspected of DUI.

In 2013 that law changed to stipulate that if the person was impaired by their prescription medications, they could still have their license suspended for 90 days for being suspected of DUI.

A Conviction for a Drug-Related DUI Now Entails a One Year License Suspension

If someone were to be convicted of alcohol DUI as a first time misdemeanor DUI offense, they are going to lose their license for 90 days.  That will be the same 90 days that they may have already done for being suspected of DUI.  If they are convicted of any sort of drug or medication DUI, however, they are going to their license for one year simply because it was drugs or medications as opposed to alcohol.

By Brian Douglas Sloan

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Brian Douglas Sloan


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Best DUI Lawyer in Phoenix

Why DUI Attorney Brian Douglas Sloan?


19+ Years SOLELY Focused on DUI Defense


4,200+ DUIs Successfully Defended

Top Accolades

  • Only DUI "Power Lawyer" in the Nation Featured in USA Today, 2022

  • Top 10 in Arizona

Top 1%

Top One Percent in the Nation

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4.9 / 5.0


brian sloan on the cover of attorney at law magazine

“I am one of only a handful of Phoenix DUI Lawyers that focuses solely on DUI Defense representation.”

I have spent my entire career SOLELY focused on Arizona DUI Defense Representation, having personally defended more than 4,400 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) clients in the past 19+ years.

If you’re looking for a Divorce Attorney, Tax Attorney, Civil Attorney, etc., I can comfortably say, "I’m not the one for you." I ONLY defend DUI cases in most of Maricopa County, Arizona.

Coming up with traditional, as well as outside-the-box motions and defenses for my clients, often with good results, is the hallmark of my practice.

Lawyers that say they are "aggressive" or "will fight for you" are a dime a dozen. They use these phrases because it is a proven advertising phrase. Being "aggressive" isn’t the same as being good, and is often used to put on a show to hide the fact that they aren’t doing anything meaningful for the client.

The same is true for the Lawyers claiming to do DUI Defense, and Criminal Cases, and Accident Cases, and Divorces, etc. A Jack-of-all-Trades is a master of none! By handling all sorts of cases, they take away from their ability to truly focus on DUIs, and keep up-to-date on the latest changes in DUI Defense Representation.

What I offer is intelligent, quality DUI Defense at an exceptional price. Unlike many other law firms, if you hire The Law Offices of Brian D. Sloan, you actually get me representing you, doing all the work, and working the case. You aren’t hiring one guy with all the experience, but getting the underling with very little knowledge or experience.

I work seven days a week on my client’s cases, and spend hours laying all my thoughts out for my clients in writing, so they can understand their options, and my recommendations. No other DUI Lawyer in the state does this. I try to do what I can to go above-and-beyond for my clients. I hate when the businesses I deal with nickel-and-dime me with hidden costs, and I take pride in not doing that to my clients.

I have not only taught other lawyers how to do DUI Defense Representation at statewide seminars, but I have produced DUI Legal Guides used by defense lawyers across Arizona.

I am one of Arizona's most award-winning DUI Defense Lawyers, as well as being recognized nationally. I was the only DUI Defense Lawyer in the United States named a "Power Lawyer" in a 2022 issue of USA Today

There are no other private Lawyers in Arizona that have personally defended more DUI cases than I have. And as a bonus, I offer a very reasonable flat rate for my legal services, with a payment plan, and without any hidden charges. This guarantees that I offer some of the most competitive rates among all Arizona DUI Attorneys, while being a well-documented and preeminent leader in the field of DUI Defense Representation.

Over the years, countless people have come to me after discovering that their first lawyer made a mistake, gave them false hope or false promises, or simply took their money and didn't do much to advance their case. And you would be surprised at how often this happens.

So, instead of wasting time and money on the wrong DUI Defense Attorney, do yourself a favor and get the proven and well-recognized best DUI Lawyer in Phoenix and the surrounding areas of Maricopa County.

You can reach me on my personal cell phone at 480-720-7839 for a Free ‘In Depth’ Consultation.

I personally defend DUI cases in urban Maricopa County City, Town, and Justice Courts, including:

Ahwatukee / Agua Fria / Arcadia Biltmore / Avondale / Buckeye / Chandler / Country Meadows / Desert Ridge / Dreamy Draw / Downtown / East Mesa / El Centro / Encanto / Gilbert / Glendale / Goodyear / Guadalupe / Highland / Kyrene / Litchfield Park / Maryvale / McDowell Mountain / Mesa / Moon Valley / North Mesa / Peoria / Phoenix / Queen Creek / San Marcos / San Tan / South Mountain / Scottsdale / Tempe / University Lakes / West McDowell / West Mesa / White Tank

For any other Courts in the State of Arizona, including Felony cases, I would recommend my associates on The Arizona DUI Team, whom I work closely with, but I am not the one personally representing the client.

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Brian Douglas Sloan

DUI Attorney

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