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How a disability could lead to a false drunk driving accusation

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2024 | Drug Charges

Field sobriety tests are used to evaluate people who are suspected of drunk driving. These tests include the following:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus test
  • One-legged stand test
  • Walk-and-turn test

These tests are physical examinations. The police are often looking for signs of inebriation when they ask drivers to conduct these tests. A driver may, for example, fall over, fail to follow instructions or make gestures that indicate they are inebriated.

However, some people are wrongly accused of drunk driving because they have a disability. A disability may make it harder for suspects to do field sobriety tests. Here is how that can happen: 

Medication with some unfortunate effects 

Many people with disabilities take daily prescription medicines. Prescription drugs can help people maintain their disability, but they often have various side effects. A side effect like drowsiness, disorientation or shaky hands may make it harder for a driver to prove that they were not drunk as they conduct a field sobriety test.

Visual impairment and amblyopia

Some people have visual disabilities. These disabilities may make it harder for drivers to see in the dark or judge distances. If a driver is encouraged to do a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, a disability such as amblyopia, frequently called “lazy eye” may make it seem as if a driver is drunk. 

Joint pain and poor balance 

Many disabilities make it harder for people to move around. If a driver is asked to do a one-legged stand test or walk-and-turn test, a disability that causes joint pain or poor balance may make it harder for them to pass these tests. 

If you are accused of drunk driving because law enforcement did not consider your disabilities, you may need to reach out for legal guidance to learn about your criminal defense options.