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How can some medicines throw off a sobriety test?

On Behalf of | Jun 25, 2021 | DUI |

When a police siren sounds behind you, the approaching officer may suspect you of DUI. If so, the officer will pull you over and ask you to perform a field sobriety test. Since officers use these tests to determine if you have too much alcohol in your system, you should know that the test is accurate. However, some medicines might throw off the results.

Sometimes a health problem requires you to take medication. The problem is that sobriety tests require you to perform certain tasks, but certain medicines may interfere with your ability to carry out these requirements.

Problems with eye twitching

One way an officer can check for DUI is to subject you to the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. This looks for an exaggerated involuntary jerking of your eyes that happens during intoxication. However, you might take medicines for psychosis, epilepsy or Parkinson’s Disease. As the Mayo Clinic explains, these drugs could cause your eyes to twitch. This twitching could mimic the effects of intoxication.

Problems with balance

The one-leg stand is another test. Here, an officer will ask you to raise your leg six inches off the ground while keeping your hands by your side. The officer may also have you do a walk and turn test. These tests all look at your balance. Problems with balance and coordination may indicate intoxication.

However, some medication can also hamper your ability to keep balance. You may be taking antidepressants to balance your mood. You might need medication for seizures or you have a cardiovascular problem that requires blood pressure medicine. All of these medications may impair your ability to walk a straight line or keep standing straight.

Taking a sobriety test or not

Knowing you have medical issues that could affect the results of a sobriety test, you might choose not to take the test. However, the Washington state Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement could use a refusal as evidence that you knew you were driving under the influence. Still, your medical history may provide a compelling case that such a test would produce a false positive. People in this situation should be aware of their options.