The Los Angeles DUI Law Blog

'Kill Bill' Actor Gets Alcoholic DUI, Blames Prescription Meds

Michael Madsen, best known for his roles in "Reservoir Dogs" and "Kill Bill" was arrested in Malibu yesterday on suspicion of driving under the influence. According to the Asssociated Press, Madsen was driving "erratically" in a red Pontiac GTO on Pacific Coast Highway. When pulled over, he reportedly failed the field sobriety tests. A preliminary alcohol screening registered 0.21.

Shortly after he was arrested, he complained of an undisclosed medical problem and was taken to the hospital. He has since been released. TMZ reports that he was suffering from "flu-like symptoms". His attorney told TMZ that the Breathalyzer was "flawed." He told the AP that prescription medication was to blame for the field sobriety tests.

While both of those assertions sound like the standard stuff tossed out by celebrities every time one is arrested for a DUI, don’t be too quick to dismiss them as false. There’s a reason we discussed whether or not field sobriety tests are required by law (they’re not). Prescription medications, flu symptoms, or anything else that can affect your balance can ruin your performance on a field sobriety test.

As for the Breathalyzer, a preliminary alcohol screening device is essentially a police version of a pocket Breathalyzer. They are not particularly noted for their accuracy or reliability, which is why a second blood or breath test is required to verify the reading on the PAS test. An uncalibrated PAS device could give an abnormally high reading, though 0.13 above the legal limit would be a pretty extreme case of miscalibration.

Finally, note that if he was under the influence of prescription medication, and it impaired his driving, that alone could convict him of a DUI. The charges for a DUI are either driving with a 0.08 or higher blood alcohol content or driving while impaired. Impairment can come from drugs, legal or illegal.

Related Resources: