Certain concerns can mimic alcohol impairment

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2024 | Drunk Driving Charges

Police officers that initiate a traffic stop because they notice signs of a driver being impaired will try to determine what’s going on. One thing they must remember is that not everyone who appears impaired has been drinking or doing drugs.

There are several challenges that can mimic alcohol impairment. Ruling these out may help individuals to avoid an unwarranted drunk driving charge; however, it’s possible that they’ll still be charged. If so, they’ll need to raise these concerns as part of their defense strategy.

Medical conditions that mimic intoxication

Certain medical conditions can cause symptoms similar to those of alcohol or drug intoxication, confusing observers and sometimes even healthcare professionals. Conditions such as diabetes, particularly when blood sugar levels are too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia), can lead to disorientation, slurred speech and unsteady gait. Similarly, neurological disorders like stroke or epilepsy can cause confusion, speech difficulties and altered behavior, closely mirroring the effects of intoxication.

Side effects of medication

Medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can have side effects that mimic the signs of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Sedatives, anticonvulsants and even some allergy medications can cause drowsiness, dizziness and impaired coordination. When these medications interact with each other or with certain foods, the effects can be amplified, leading to significant impairment that resembles drunkenness.

Fatigue and sleep deprivation

Extreme fatigue and sleep deprivation are common factors that can significantly impair one’s cognitive and physical abilities, often to the extent of appearing intoxicated. Lack of sleep can lead to poor concentration, delayed reaction times, slurred speech and difficulty in maintaining balance.

Psychological conditions

Psychological conditions, such as severe anxiety, panic attacks or dissociative disorders, can lead to behaviors and physical symptoms that mimic intoxication. Individuals may experience disorientation, rapid speech or inability to speak coherently and erratic behavior, which can be mistaken for being under the influence. These conditions can also alter a person’s perception and response to external stimuli, further complicating the assessment.

Someone who faces a drunk driving charge because of one of these factors should ensure they consult a legal representative who can help them build the strongest possible defense strategy under the circumstances.

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