DUI Suspect Inhaled Nitrous During Chase: LAPD

By Andrew Lu on February 05, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A DUI suspect allegedly inhaled balloons filled with nitrous oxide as he led LAPD officers on a slow-speed chase.

After the 22-year-old driver finally pulled over in a residential neighborhood, he could be seen inhaling even more nitrous-filled balloons while rocking back and forth in the vehicle, police told Los Angeles' KCAL-TV.

No injuries were reported, despite the fact that nitrous oxide -- better known as laughing gas -- can cause serious side effects such as hallucinations and depth-perception problems.

And while drugged driving arrests involving nitrous abuse are rare, they're not unheard of either.

For example, in Orange County, California, last fall, a 21-year-old man who inhaled nitrous while driving got a year in jail for a DUI crash that killed his 15-year-old passenger and injured two others. The driver, who'd allegedly been inhaling nitrous from a balloon, took his hands off the steering wheel and lost control, crashing his car. He was severely burned and suffered brain damage.

In last week's alleged nitrous DUI arrest, the driver will likely face criminal drugged driving charges upon his release from a hospital.

As you may know, drivers can be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, or drugs like nitrous oxide or marijuana. Even states that allow for medical marijuana prohibit driving while high. Prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications that impair your driving can potentially lead to DUI charges as well.

While there is a clear standard of a 0.08% blood alcohol level for drunken-driving cases, states can use different methods to determine drugged driving. Chemical and blood tests are available for certain types of drugs. In other cases, an arresting officer's observations of erratic driving, erratic behavior, or other facts surrounding the crash are often sufficient under the law.

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