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Medical Conditions and False Positive Field Sobriety Tests

 Posted on April 21, 2024 in DUI

IL DUI lawyerField sobriety tests can be unreliable. Anything from the shoes a person is wearing to the weather conditions on the side of the road can cause a person who is sober to appear intoxicated. People who have certain medical conditions might appear intoxicated during field sobriety tests when they are not. Unfortunately, police officers do not often listen to the person they have pulled over when he or she tries to explain how his or her medical condition might influence the results of the test. This can lead to needless DUI arrests. A Naperville, IL criminal defense attorney can take steps to prove that your field sobriety test was impacted by your condition. 

Types of Medical Conditions That Affect Field Sobriety Tests 

Common medical conditions that could mimic intoxication during a field sobriety test include:

  • Leg injuries - Anything from a pulled calf muscle to a recent knee injury or sprained ankle can cause a person to appear unbalanced or unsteady. 
  • Arthritis - People who have arthritis in their knee, hip, or ankle joints might not perform well when asked to stand on one leg or walk a perfectly straight line. 
  • Neurological conditions - Conditions such as Parkinson's or vertigo can impair a person’s balance, causing an officer to believe the person is drunk. 
  • Inner ear issues - Infections or perforations involving the inner ear can affect balance.
  • High weight - People of size may have greater difficulties performing the walk-and-turn test or may have difficulty balancing on one leg. 
  • Clinical anxiety - A person who suffers from anxiety might struggle to follow instructions being shouted at them during a highly stressful situation. The officer may interpret a person with anxiety’s inability to process detailed directions with intoxication-induced confusion or refusal to comply. 
  • Diabetes - Individuals with very high or very low blood sugar are routinely mistaken for being intoxicated by police and laypeople alike. 
  • Hearing impairment - Someone who is deaf or hard of hearing might struggle to understand what the police officer is saying, especially when the deaf person cannot see the officer’s face. Police officers may believe the person is disoriented rather than unable to hear directions. 
  • Pregnancy - Pregnant people may have difficulty balancing due to a rapidly changing center of balance and the loosening of ligaments in the hips and feet. Officers may also mistake normal pregnancy-induced vomiting for a sign of severe intoxication. 

Contact a Naperville, IL Field Sobriety Test Attorney

Appelman Law LLC is committed to helping people whose medical conditions impacted their field sobriety test results. Experienced DuPage County, IL DUI lawyer Brett Appelman has a Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology and is skilled in helping the court distinguish between an inability to follow instructions in this stressful situation due to mental health or cognitive impairment from intoxication. Contact us at 630-717-7801 for a complimentary consultation. 

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