DUI charge dropped for man who tested positive for caffeine

The Reporter: DUI charges dropped for man who tested positive for caffeine

In a statement late Wednesday, the Solano County District Attorney’s office announced the dismissal of a DUI charge against a Fairfield man who tested positive for driving under the influence of caffeine — not alcohol.

Joseph Schwab, 36, of Fairfield, was pulled over in August 2015 by an Alcohol Beverage Control Officer after the officer spotted the man driving “erratically” and weaving through lanes on northbound Interstate 680 near Gold Hill Road. When Schwab was pulled over, the officer noticed the man had dilated pupils and appeared “amped up,” the District Attorney’s Office said in a statement Wednesday.

The man was then given multiple field sobriety tests by the officer and because of the results, the officer believed the man was too impaired to be driving.

Following the man’s arrest, Schwab was administered two blood test, which showed negative results for “standard drugs,” but positive for caffeine. The tests, however, did not account for all drugs and substances, the District Attorney’s Office said.

In a statement released Tuesday by the District Attorney’s Office, the agency announced they would be continuing with the case against Schwab despite the blood test results. Just 24 hours later though, the agency said they’d be dropping the DUI charge against the man — a sudden move that has no explanation, the man’s attorney Stacy Barrett said Thursday.

“After recent discussions with the experts from forensic laboratories, (experts) opined that it was, ‘highly likely the defendant was under the influence of a drug,’” The District Attorney’s statement noted. “After further consideration, without a confirmatory test of the specific drug in the defendant’s system that impaired his ability to drive, we do not believe we can prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The agency also said that at the time the case was initially filed, they believed the defendant to be under the influence of a variety of substances, including a depressant and a stimulant.

Though because tests did not show the man to be under the influence of a drug, the DUI charge will not be further prosecuted.

The man’s attorney believes what happened to Schwab should be troubling to community members.

“I think that other drivers should be concerned about how law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office handled this case,” Barrett said. She noted that her client was pulled over by an unmarked car — another concern to drivers, she said.

In addition to local media, Schwab’s case has garnered national and international media coverage — something that may have influenced the dismissal, Barrett said.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” she said.

Schwab and his attorney will appear next at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 3 in Solano County Superior Court in Judge Carlos Gutierrez’ courtroom for a formal dismissal hearing. Despite the DUI charge being dismissed, Schwab is still facing a reckless driving charge — which Barrett hopes will dropped at the next court date. If the charge is not dropped, the court will continue with a trial on Jan. 11 for the single reckless driving charge

According to court records, Schwab and his attorney had been working to dismiss the DUI charge in the weeks leading up to the dismissal. A motion to dismiss was filed Dec. 16 by Barrett because of an alleged violation of the man’s right to a speedy trial. One week later, the District Attorney filed a motion in opposition of the dismissal request — just five days before the charges would be formally dropped. For now, Schwab is just relieved to have the DUI charge dismissed, his attorney said.

“It was clear to me that [the District Attorney] didn’t have sufficient evidence,” Barrett said.

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