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Can a medical condition mimic impairment when driving?

Police officers who are on patrol will watch vehicles closely to determine whether the driver is operating the car safely. If they see signs of impairment, they will likely pull the vehicle over to determine what’s going on with the driver.

In many cases, the officers will automatically assume that a driver is impaired and set out to gather the evidence to prove they are unfit to drive. What the police may not assume is that the driver is actually having a medical issue.

Can medical conditions mimic impairment?

There are some medical conditions that can mimic the signs of impairment. It’s important for police officers to consider this possibility if they pull someone over who’s exhibiting signs of impairment. While this isn’t a comprehensive account of conditions that might appear similar to being intoxicated, it’s a good starting point for people who might have an issue while they drive.

One that’s fairly common is diabetes. A person who’s suffering from a diabetic episode can be disoriented. They might have an altered state of consciousness and become dizzy. Their breath may smell like acetone and they may have a fruity body odor, which police might assume is a mixed drink.

People who have a traumatic brain injury or epilepsy might also show signs of impairment. These are associated with symptoms like dizziness, alterations in consciousness, difficulty concentrating and an inability to control the limbs. Alzheimer’s disease is another one that might mimic impairment because the individual may become unresponsive, have slurred speech and be disoriented.

Having a stroke can also appear similar to impairment. One symptom of this condition is dilated pupils that are likely different sizes. The person’s gait might also be altered, so they may appear to be having trouble walking. They may also slur their words similar to a person who’s drunk.

What should you do if a medical condition resulted in a drunk driving charge?

If you have a medical condition that might have caused you to show signs of impairment the night you were arrested for impaired driving, you should discuss the situation with your attorney. This could prove to be an important component of your defense strategy.

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