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Your Medical History May Help Your DUI Case

Your medical history can often be used to obtain reduced charges, or even dismissal of your DUI case.  A case from Washington State recently reported in USA Today provides a classic example of how your medical history can be highly relevant to your DUI case.

The incident began when Carol Carlson drove her car to a local ferry terminal.  Ms. Carlson appeared confused according to the toll both attendant and other ferry workers.  She then ran over a curb and drove the wrong way on a one-way street.

When confronted by a trooper, Ms. Carlson allegedly stated she’d had two glasses of wine.  The trooper reported Ms. Carlson’s eyes to be bloodshot and her breath to have an odor of alcohol.  The trooper then asked her to perform field sobriety exercises.  Ms. Carlson performed poorly according to the officer. 

Based on her poor performance on the field sobriety exercises and other purported signs of intoxication, the trooper handcuffed Ms. Carlson and called for another trooper to perform a roadside breath test.  That test turned up negative, indicating she had not consumed any alcohol whatsoever.

Ms. Carlson’s car was then impounded and she was taken to a local hospital where her blood was tested for the presence of alcohol to build a case against her.  The only thing found in her blood, however, was an antidepressant and a drug to treat seizures.  Nonetheless, Ms. Carlson was booked into the jail.

Even though Ms. Carlson still appeared confused, she was released “to the street” the following morning.  Thereafter she meandered around the ferry town in a daze for almost 12 hours.

Ms. Carlson ended up at a bus terminal.  From there, she was mistaken as homeless and taken to the local Salvation Army shelter.  Noting her confusion, the staff there had her transported to a hospital.

During this ordeal, Ms. Carlson’s family became concerned when they could not contact her.  A search by them found her at the hospital.  It was there she was diagnosed as having had a stroke just prior to incident.  Ms. Carlson’s daughter arrived at the hospital and stayed by her mother’s side until her discharge ten days after her arrest.  The family only became aware of Ms. Carlson’s arrest and ordeal after finding related paperwork in her purse.

Later, Ms. Carlson’s family tried to reconstruct the events leading to her arrest and hospitalization.  After talking with Ms. Carlson’s friends about when they last heard from her and when she began sending odd texts and missing calls, the family concluded Ms. Carlson suffered the stroke on Saturday, about two days before she drove to the ferry terminal.

Thankfully, prosecutors declined to file charges against Ms. Carlson based on the blood test confirming no alcohol and that the medications in Ms. Carlson’s system were within therapeutic levels.  “Although the substances have the potential to cause impairment, we don’t think we could prove this case to a jury without a reasonable doubt,” the prosecutor said.

We’ve obtained favorable results in numerous DUI cases for our clients based on various medical conditions such as stroke, diabetes, and certain cancers that can mimic the effects of alcohol impairment.  Also, as I’ve noted in a previous blog post, cessation of certain antidepressant medications can produce symptoms similar to alcohol impairment.  Finally, we have also obtained favorable results where foot, ankle, leg, back, head and certain other prior or current injuries have resulted in our clients not being able properly to perform the field sobriety exercises.

A DUI conviction is stigmatizing and can result in the loss of employment, difficulty in obtaining new employment, loss of professional licenses, substantially increased automobile insurance premiums and loss of your driving privileges.  If you’ve been arrested for DUI and you have any medical conditions or a history of bodily injury, it’s important that you contact a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer with experience about how those issues could impact your case.  If you do, you will have the best chance of avoiding a DUI conviction and the resultant damage to your future.  Call me for a free consultation to discuss how I can help you with your DUI case in Duval, Clay, Nassau, Baker or St. Johns Counties today.

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