Arrested for drinking coffee?
Joseph Schwab’s arrest made the rounds this Christmas season.
Schwab, whose charges have now been dropped, was reported, usually with little qualification, to have been arrested for having caffeine in his system, after being pulled over by an agent of the California Alcoholic Beverages Control in Solano County, CA.
OK. It would be much too far to say Schwab’s arrest constitutes a conspiracy against coffee. But would it be far too much to say it represents a coffee-inspired arrest? Well, yes.
The narrative presented by most news outlets was adopted from the account provided by his attorney, Stacey Barret.
According to Barret, as reported by the Guardian, Schwab was pulled over by an agent of the for driving erratically in Solano County, CA. He was given a breathalyzer test, which he passed (with a 0.00% bal), and then, after he was arrested, a blood test that was screen by two different labs and revealed nothing except caffeine in his system.
The Chief Deputy District Attorney for Solano, Sharon Henry, disputed this, saying the DUI charge wasn’t based on the caffeine in his system, but didn’t explain further.
According to later reports, the agent who pulled Schwab over found supplements in his car (all of which turned out to all be legal).
In a press release explaining why the charges were dropped, District Attorney Krishna Abrams said they still believe that another drug (one that the blood screening doesn’t test for) was in Schwab’s system. But they no longer think they can prove this.
Schwab is still being charged with reckless driving.
This is not to say coffee-drinkers aren’t vulnerable to punishment through secondary means, like distracted driving bills. It is, however, to say that this seems not to have been that. No. This seems to have been an overly zealous prosecutor and alcoholic control agent, and while their zeal was disturbing, it was not (strictly speaking) a caffeine-inspired arrest. It was a non-story that found space in an apparently slow news week.