'Driving While Caffeinated' Defense?

Lawyer says a caffeine-induced psychosis may have caused a hit-and-run crash.

ByABC News
December 10, 2009, 7:01 PM

Dec. 11, 2009— -- A man who allegedly speeds down a country road, hits two pedestrians, gets arrested and then runs handcuffed toward his wife's office in 5-degree weather, all while wearing only pajamas and flip flops, might lead someone to think of alcohol.

But his lawyer argues caffeine might be to blame.

Washington State University Police arrested 31-year-old Daniel Noble early Monday morning after what state troopers call a "bizarre" series of events that sent two students to the hospital with broken legs. He's charged with two counts of vehicular assault and two counts of hit-and-run.

State police and Noble's attorney, Mark Moorer, say that initial blood work and psychiatric evaluations haven't yet explained what happened.

So, Moorer is suggesting that "caffeine-induced psychosis" may be to blame for his client's alleged reckless driving and bizarre behavior.

Caffeine-induced psychosis, more accurately "caffeine intoxication," is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which serves as a so-called bible of psychiatrists. However, caffeine experts say they couldn't be sure what was behind Noble's behaviorr.

"That particular morning he appeared at the Starbucks very early, wearing his pajamas without his cell phone, without anything, and he ordered his usual. The barista there knows him," said Moorer, who noted Noble had two of his usual drinks that morning.

Coffee cup in hand, Moorer said Noble continued on, driving erratically, to the Washington State University, Pullman campus, supposedly to find his wife, who was still at home.

From police accounts, it started with a call that a gold-colored Pontiac Grand Am similar to Noble's, was speeding on Route 270, passing cars erratically and splitting traffic before heading into the college town of Pullman.

"First, he hits the kid in the crosswalk, severely injures him, and continues on. About a block later, he hit another kid hard enough that he knocks him out of his shoes... he just continues on," said Sgt. Brad Hudson with the Washington State Patrol. "Then he just stops, blocking the left lane, gets out of his car..."