Medical Conditions and Medications That Can Lead to a DUI Arrest

Sometimes medications or a medical condition may have effects on a driver that appear to police to be signs of a drunk driver.

DUI arrests do not always lead to convictions. Local law enforcement and arresting officers across the country have hand-cuffed innocent drivers suffering from a medical condition or reactions to medications and accused them of driving under the influence.

Medical Conditions Can Mimic DUI Behaviors

Several medical conditions, such as the following, may make someone appear to be intoxicated:


Often seen in diabetics, hypoglycemia is a drop in blood sugar levels. Typical signs of this medical condition include staggering, unsteadiness, confusion, slurred speech, and agitation or combativeness, just like someone who's intoxicated.


Some people may not even be aware they had a stroke. They may have trouble communicating, impaired vision, uneven pupils, trouble walking, dizziness, disorientation, or may even be unconscious. All of these symptoms also are inherent in a DUI driver.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Depending on the area of the brain affected, a person living with TBI may have slurred speech, impulsive responses, an imbalanced walk, dilated or unequal pupils, and many other symptoms that many would identify as intoxication.


Someone who suffered a seizure shortly before getting behind the wheel or while driving, may lose control of the vehicle and appear confused, drowsy, and/or combative. They may not even know they suffered a seizure and may be unable to relate this information to the responding officer.


When an individual does not get enough oxygen, they may cause become confused, restless, and in an altered mental state.


Low body temperature or a high body temperature may lead to an altered mental state. Sufferers may have glassy eyes and stagger or display confusion and drowsiness.


Blood-shot eyes, reddening skin, and an inability to think clearly could easily be misinterpreted as a possible DUI. Add in a lack of sleep and someone could become combative when stopped on the road and accused of drinking and driving.

Medications Causing Reactions Similar to DUI

Medications are powerful. Our bodies may react to even regularly-taken medications as if we are drunk depending on what is going on in our systems. Anything from cold medicines and allergy medication to over-the-counter sleep tablets, as well as prescription medications to help with insomnia, may suddenly cause us to feel woozy or slur our speech.

A DUI arrest where the responding officers didn't check your medical condition or listen to your explanation about the medication you were taking may require further investigation from a qualified criminal defense lawyer.

Learn more about how drugs and alcohol can lead to criminal charges.

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