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Health conditions that could mimic signs of intoxication

On Behalf of | Oct 20, 2021 | DUI/DWI Defense

When police pull drivers over in Fort Myers, they can be looking for a lot more than drivers realize. For example, if the police pull you over some night, they are likely watching for signs of intoxication. And they could very well find them, even if you are not drunk.

This is possible if you have certain health conditions with symptoms that could mimic intoxication.

Signs of intoxication or something else?

Some of the most common signs that someone may be drunk include:

  • Glassy, bloodshot eyes
  • Loss of balance
  • Slurred speech
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Confusion
  • The smell of alcohol on their breath

However, these conditions are hardly specific only to intoxication. They can also be symptoms of health issues, including:

  • Ataxia
  • Allergies
  • Dehydration
  • Anxiety
  • Diabetes
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Epilepsy
  • Fatigue

Further, environmental conditions can affect a person’s appearance and behavior. Dust can make a person’s eyes water. Uneven road surfaces or uncomfortable footwear can make a person unstable on their feet. Being in a new place or driving an unfamiliar car can confuse a person. Language barriers can make it difficult for someone to communicate clearly.

How these conditions complicate traffic stops

If police think you have been drinking, they may search your car, ask you to perform sobriety tests and arrest you. Even if you haven’t had a drop to drink, you could wind up facing charges and penalties stemming from the traffic stop.

Drug charges, DUI, assault, probation violations and other related offenses could all be possible if the police think you are intoxicated when they pull you over.

Accurately detecting intoxication does not always happen during a traffic stop. Police rely on subjective observations, bias and training to determine if someone is drunk, as well as field sobriety tests and Breathalyzers. 

However, these methods are certainly not perfect. As such, it can be up to an individual to defend against the allegations that they were drunk when police pulled them over.