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Drunk Driver vs. Concussed Driver

Drunk Driver vs. Concussed Driver

Imagine the following scenario: law enforcement arrives at the scene of a serious car accident. One involved driver is lethargic, experiencing blurred vision, and can't seem to find their balance. This is a case of drunk driving, right?

Not necessarily. A surprising number of drivers involved in accidents exhibit signs of intoxication that are not due to drinking but to an actual concussion. Below, we take a look at how these symptoms mirror one another and what can be done when a driver is mistakenly arrested for DUI.

Concussion Symptoms vs. Intoxication

Most of us are aware of the common signs of intoxication: slurred speech. Blurred vision. Decreased motor skills. Irritability. When officer witnesses these signs exhibited in a driver, they often have probable cause to make a DUI arrest. However, in some cases, especially following an accident, those charges may not stick.

A concussion occurs when the brain makes a sudden impact against the inside of our brain cavities and is a mild form of TBI (traumatic brain injury). These injuries have gotten a lot of attention lately due to their prevalence in NFL players, but concussions can occur to anyone, including those who have been serious traffic accidents.

The symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Confusion
  • Suppressed (slowed) motor function
  • Imbalance
  • Irritability/anxiousness
  • Sadness/emotion instability

The Consent Issue

One of the most critical issues of the potential confusion between intoxication and concussion symptoms is achieving driver consent. During the course of the police officer's investigation of a driver, they may ask for their participation in a roadside sobriety test and, if an arrest occurs, a chemical test.

Studies have shown that even mild concussions can result in an inability to understand what is being asked of the victim—which could have a significant bearing on determining the guilt of a DUI suspect. Even a DUI suspect's answers to simple preliminary questions can be challenged if it is found that the driver suffered a concussion.

If you have been charged with a DUI following an accident where you have also suffered a concussion, then we invite you to contact us at Orr Law Firm. Our Denver DUI defense attorneys have time and time again provided our clients knowledgeable and effective representation in these matters and consistently secured dismissals and reductions on their behalf.

You do not have to face your drunk driving allegations without a proven advocate on your side. Contact us today.