If you read the list of possible side effects of the sleep aid Ambien, it’s a wonder anyone take it at all. The drug usually causes no problems when taken properly, but in some cases it causes side effects such as “seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there,” diarrhea, “painful urination,” “unusual sense of well-being,” “feeling sad or empty” and “confusion about identity, place, and time,” among others.
We have all heard, too, about unusual sleep disturbances that happen to a small percentage of Ambien users, who are known to go sleepwalking. They can do everyday things, such as holding conversations and going places, all while apparently asleep. In fact, a Colorado man is using the sleep aid as part of his DUI defense, according to a recent report.
The Boulder man says that he drove while asleep — in a somnambulistic state — after taking the sleep aid and while under the influence of alcohol. He was arrested for DUI and his driver’s license was revoked late last month. He says because his driving was involuntary, Colorado should reinstate his driver’s license.
According to a Courthouse News report, he was arrested on Jan. 26, 2015, at 11:48 p.m. He says test results were positive for Ambien and alcohol.
At a hearing in Boulder County Court, he presented an affidavit from an expert unidentified in the Courthouse News article we read. The expert said somnambulism is a “common side effect” of Ambien when the drug is taken in therapeutic doses (the DUI suspect said he had taken the prescribed amount of the medicine).
A defendant hearing officer ruled that DUI “does not require a voluntary act,” a ruling the man and his attorney dispute. It will be interesting to see if the case goes any further.