'Driving While Caffeinated' Defense?

Experts in caffeine and caffeine addiction affirmed that there is indeed a diagnosis for "caffeine intoxication," but noted that the diagnosis is more complicated than intoxication for any other drug.

"There's a psychiatric syndrome that's recognized," said Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins University. "It's diagnosable if someone has consumed an excess of 250 milligrams of caffeine, so that's slightly over a large cup of coffee."

Doctors have noted that people may experience nervousness, excitement, insomnia, flushed face, psychomotor agitation or "rambling flow of thought or speech," while intoxicated with caffeine. More severe reports have shown caffeine intoxication can induce fever and sensory disturbances. It can worsen the symptoms of people with schizophrenia.

But that's not to say anyone who drinks a latte could go berserk at any moment.

Could Coffee Make Us All Crazy?

Griffiths points out that plenty of people build up a tolerance to coffee and aren't affected at all.

"Caffeine produces a lot of tolerance. For some people it produces almost complete tolerance. There are people who can drink five cups of coffee a day and still go to sleep," said Griffiths.

Daniel Evatt, a research fellow at Johns Hopkins Medical School who runs a clinic to get caffeine addicts clean, affirmed that caffeine can cause "intoxication." But he noted it depends on the individual's consumption, and or even genetics.

"What might cause caffeine intoxication in one person may not cause caffeine intoxication in another," said Evatt.

Moreover, caffeine intoxication can affect someone who rarely drinks coffee, or a long-time coffee addict who drinks enough to reach complete tolerance.

Evatt said the average person consumes about 200 mg of caffeine a day. By 750-1,000 mg of coffee a day and Evatt estimates "you're much more likely to develop complete tolerance, and you're going to develop withdrawal symptoms."

From Moorer's descriptions of Noble's caffeine consumption, Evatt estimates he was drinking two grams of caffeine a day -- that's 10 times the average caffeine consumption.

Yet, those grams of caffeine could have just been bringing Noble back to his normal functioning level rather than agitating him.

Evatt explained that caffeine gives a mental boost to those who are not addicted. But for those who are addicted, "they're now just using caffeine to reverse the withdrawal," and get back to normal.

With coffee intoxication, "You're really [at] risk if you are consuming more than your [normal] daily consumption," said Evatt.

Barry Smith, author of "Caffeine and Activation Theory" calls caffeine "the most widely consumed drug in the world."

He also thinks of it as one of the safest drugs around.

"It actually probably has more benefits than harm. There's no longer any evidence that caffeine causes heart attacks," said Smith, director of the Laboratory of Human Psychophysiology at the University of Maryland.

"The bottom line is that it is a very, very safe substance," he said.

Smith points out that caffeine can multiply the symptoms of anxiety disorders in some people, but not all. Caffeine withdrawal, which mostly causes headaches, is also one of the safer forms of drug withdrawal.

He couldn't guess about Noble's addiction level, except to say caffeine can indeed "produce a very, very high level of physiological effect."

"If the blood comes out black then you know he had too much," he joked.

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