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What medications and medical conditions can affect your performance in field sobriety tests?

You took the trip up to Washington to take in a Nationals game. A few of your friends from work joined you, and you had an excellent time. Before the game started, you had a few sodas, but once the first pitch was thrown, you switched to water. After all, it was hot and you were sitting in the sun.

On your way home, an officer pulled you over on I-95, saying that you were speeding. After the interrogation, you were asked to step out of the vehicle and participate in a few field sobriety tests. The officer said based on your appearance and behavior, he suspected that you were intoxicated.

Poor Field Sobriety Test Performances Aren’t Always Caused by Alcohol

You didn’t think to tell the officer about your medical condition and the medication you take to control it. Unfortunately, both can cause you to perform poorly on the tests. Here, we discuss explanations for certain behaviors displayed during the tests:

  • Swaying and imbalance. Walking in a straight line, standing in place with your eyes closed and head back, and following a pen with your eyes may be impossible when you have inner ear conditions, prior head trauma, or epilepsy. Conditions such as these can negatively affect your test results.
  • Nystagmus. The horizontal-gaze nystagmus test measures your ability to control your eye muscles. However, medication or conditions such as caffeine, aspirin, eye strain, and head injuries may cause your eyes to move around uncontrollably, causing the officer to believe you are intoxicated.
  • Flushed and drunken appearance. You sat in the sun all day, which left your face flushed and your eyes red. You also suffer from rosacea, which gives you a rosy appearance. The officer believes that these factors are caused by alcohol instead of what they actually are.

We Want to Help Prove Your Innocence

Contact the legal professionals of the Easley Law Firm today to devise a defense against your DUI charge—we may be able to help.


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Easley Law Firm

  • 10521 Judicial Drive
    Suite 205

    Fairfax, VA 22030
  • Phone: 703-865-6610
  • Fax: 703-842-6101
  • Toll Free: 888-386-3898
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