Unknowingly Consuming Drugs: Involuntary Intoxication 

In the News

Anyone who drives under the influence is breaking the law, even if they were slipped a drug unknowingly. But if your driving is impaired without your knowledge, can you still be responsible for the crime of impaired driving? 

Did someone say “involuntary intoxication”? 

The defense of involuntary intoxication is the legal term for a way someone can defend themselves when they are charged with a crime. This defence can be brought up when a person says they consumed drugs without knowing it.  

The courts distinguish between two types of intoxication: voluntary and involuntary. Of course, a person who uses drugs voluntarily to give themselves the courage to commit a crime will not be excused by the court. On the other hand, if they consume drugs without knowing it, they will not necessarily be responsible for their actions while they were drugged.  

Act quickly 

Once consumed, drugs can remain in the body for a limited time. You should act as soon as you think you have unknowingly been slipped a drug by going to the hospital to get tested.  

Standard drug tests, whether done by checking blood or urine, can detect the presence of GHB, which is known as a date-rape drug, up to 12 hours after use. 

A positive GHB test could be part of the evidence considered by the court when deciding whether someone is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, someone who wishes to defend themselves could use this drug screen result to explain memory loss and why they don’t remember the alleged acts they would’ve committed. 

Did you know?

The main effects of GHB use include

  • An unusual calm and relaxed feeling,
  • Slow movements,
  • A pasty mouth,
  • Drowsiness,
  • Nonchalance,
  • Disorientation (distorted sense of space and time), and
  • Confusion.