DUI Arrests Based on Mistaken Assumptions or Misdiagnoses

  • Apr 30 2018

Why do I appear to be drunk when I haven’t even had any alcohol?

It is bad enough if a friend or co-worker thinks that you’re intoxicated when you are actually sober, but if a police officer arrests you on charges of DUI in spite of the fact that you’ve had nothing had no alcoholic beverage, the consequences can be dire, especially if you have been involved in an accident in which someone was seriously injured. Unfortunately, law enforcement officials and even healthcare professionals are often unschooled in the way many other medical and psychiatric conditions can mimic inebriation.

Whether you already know that you have a medical condition that mimics intoxication, or have just experienced the phenomenon for the first time, you need professional assistance to help you sort things out, both from a doctor who can accurately diagnose your problem, and from a criminal defense attorney who specializes in DUI arrests.

Mistakes Can Be Fatal

Apart from the legal penalties, damage to your reputation, and personal humiliation a DUI arrest may engender, having a serious health condition mistaken for intoxication can result in a critical delay in proper treatment. Such a delay may cause a worsening of symptoms, leading to unconsciousness or even death. Fatal mistakes can also occur if you are impaired by another psychoactive substance rather than alcohol, or when you are having an idiosyncratic reaction to a prescribed medication. Depending upon what condition you have, assuming you are already aware of it, in addition to having a medical alert bracelet or necklace, you should carry a card in your wallet explaining what’s wrong and what medical treatment you require.

Common Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

Most people are familiar with the symptoms of drunkenness, if not from direct experience or observation, than from movies, TV, or even cartoons. The symptoms commonly associated with intoxication include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty balancing
  • Unsteady gait
  • Confusion
  • Impaired memory
  • Alcohol smell on breath

Even though police officers will most likely test your breath, blood or urine, they may come to a conclusion before administering such test, a conclusion that may have negative consequences in the way you are treated and even in the legal outcome of your case. This is why it’s essential to have a DUI defense attorney with a track record of success on your team as soon as possible to advise you about exactly how to proceed.

A Broad Range of Illnesses and Syndromes May Mimic Intoxication

There are a remarkable number of medical conditions that can make you appear intoxicated.  These include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Concussion
  • Dehydration
  • Dementia
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Heat stroke
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder
  • Transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke)
  • West Nile virus

Diagnoses Based on Bias

Another important fact to be aware of is that several studies have shown that doctors, as well as police, are far more likely to suspect a patient who is dishevelled, poorly dressed, or appears to be of low socioeconomic status, of being drunk. By the same token, they are much more likely to assume that a well-groomed, nicely dressed individual is sober.

Another well-recognized form of bias is racial (or ethnic) profiling. If you have believe or have evidence that you have been pulled over because the police were reacting negatively to your skin color, attire, or some other indicator of your race, religion, or ethnicity, a skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to have your charges reduced or dismissed.

Posted in: DWI/DUI

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