SNL Alum Chris Kattan Charged with DUI

Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins

Comic and former Saturday Night Live cast member Chris Kattan was arrested on February 10, 2014 after being suspected of driving while under the influence of drugs near Los Angeles.  Kattan, who is also the star of such comedies as Corky Romano and A Night at the Roxbury, was apparently acting strangely on a flight shortly before the crash while also mentioning that he'd run out of his medication.  Around 2:00 am, Kattan rear-ended a California Department of Transportation truck with his 2011 Mercedes.  In video shot at the scene, Kattan was shown having difficulty completing some of his field sobriety tests.  He was arrested by police for a DUI and it is believed that he was under the influence of some sort of drug, possibly a prescription drug that he was taking.  A blood test was given to help determine what Kattan was allegedly under the influence of at the time of the accident but the results have not been released.  Kattan got minor injuries in the accident, but no one else was harmed.

Even though many DUI cases do have to do with being under the influence of alcohol, one can also be charged with a DUI when under the influence of drugs, even those prescribed by a doctor or over the counter drugs.  Under California law, driving while under the influence of drugs carries the same sentence as driving under the influence of alcohol, but the procedure for establishing such a case is different.

Unlike alcohol, where a simple breathalyzer can be taken, driving under the influence of drugs requires blood or urine tests.  These tests allow police and prosecutors to determine which, if any, drugs the driver had in their system at the time of the DUI.  However, in California, simply having evidence of drugs in one's system is not enough to sustain a DUI conviction alone.  Police must also prove that the driver was impaired by those drugs with other evidence.  This evidence often includes performing poorly on field sobriety tests. 

Additionally, a driver can be charged with a DUI, even without drugs or alcohol in their system in some rare instances.  When someone has an impairment due to drug or alcohol withdrawal, they still have a duty not to drive in California.  It is up to the prosecution to prove that a suspected impaired driver was going through withdrawal effects when they were arrested for their DUI, something which can be extremely difficult if that person does not actually have any drugs in their system.

The penalties in California for driving while under the influence of drugs are jail time between 96 hours and 6 months along with a fine of $390-$1000 and license suspension.

The laws when it comes to driving while under the influence of drugs is very similar between California and Florida, where an impaired driver can also be arrested for being impaired by drugs while driving.  In Florida, evidence of drugs in a driver's system is not enough, other evidence as to be provided to show that the driver was actually impaired by those drugs at the time of arrest.  The sentence for a DUI in Florida is also different for first time offenders with jail time of not more than 6 months, a fine of $500-$1000 and license suspension.