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Can a medical condition mimic drunkenness or drug intoxication?

On Behalf of | Oct 14, 2020 | DUI defense |

You’re driving home from a late night at the office and blue lights suddenly start flashing behind you. You’re pulled over. The officer tells you that you were weaving a little or that you rolled through a stop sign just a little too fast. Clearly, the officer suspects you of being impaired. You’re not, but it doesn’t take long for the officer to decide that you’re either drunk or drugged. You end up under arrest for DUI.

What just happened? Well, there are all kinds of things that can make someone look like they are drunk or drugged, and many of them are related to medical conditions. Consider the following possibilities:

  • You have a condition called ataxia. Ataxia can cause you to develop balance problems, affect the coordination in your hands, interfere with your ability to walk properly and cause slurred speech. It’s common with autoimmune disorders, head injuries and even common infections, and it can definitely make you look impaired.
  • You have diabetes. Thousands of people are newly diagnosed with diabetes every year, and it can creep up on someone unexpectedly. A condition called ketoacidosis, which is common to diabetics, can make your breath smell like you’ve been drinking and even throw off a Breathalyzer’s results.
  • You have a bad reaction to some medication. You would never get behind the wheel while drinking or drugged, but you’ve taken cold medicine many times before with no ill effects. This time, however, everything is different. Your reaction times are slow and you feel somewhat disoriented — and weren’t entirely aware of the problem.
  • You have dry eyes or allergies. After a long day at work, your eyes may be painfully dry and red-rimmed. Seasonal allergies can make it even worse. To a suspicious officer, however, that may look like you’re high.

If you’re wrongly accused of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it’s smart to get help fast. An experienced defense attorney should be in your corner.