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Reasons You May Appear Impaired by Alcohol, Even When You’re Not

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

April 4, 2022

When the police stop drivers for suspected DUI, they’re looking for any and all signs that the driver is impaired by alcohol. However, many perceived signs of impairment can also be signs of unrelated things. Let’s discuss how some stereotypical ‘drunken behaviors’ may not be related to alcohol at all.


Fatigue can be a powerful thing. If you’ve been driving for numerous hours or driving on low sleep, fatigue may make you appear intoxicated. Droopy eyes, slow speech, and a lack of coordination from your tiredness can be instead interpreted as signs of impairment.


Seeing red and blue lights flashing behind your vehicle would put most people into an anxious panic. Even if your stop doesn’t end with an arrest, you’re anticipating the cost of a ticket. Many people feel anxiety through physical symptoms like sweat, jitters, and confusion. If you really start to panic, your voice may also come out mumbly or incoherent. While these are relatively common symptoms for someone experiencing anxiety, an officer may believe that they are actually symptoms caused by drugs or alcohol.


Depending on the severity of your allergy, you might experience:

  • Red swollen eyes
  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Mental confusion

Some of these symptoms may be mistaken for intoxication. For example, vomiting due to illness can be mistaken as vomiting due to severe alcohol consumption.

Note: police officers are supposed to wait at least 20 minutes after a driver belches or vomits to conduct a breathalyzer test.

Medical Conditions

Some medical conditions can produce symptoms similar to signs of intoxication, including:

  • Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • Diabetes
  • Prior brain injuries
  • Epilepsy

If you are stopped for suspected DUI and suffer from one of these conditions, notify the officer.

Broward DUI Defense

Many people believe that DUI cases are simple, cut and dry, and easy to convict. This is not the case. There are numerous ways an innocent person can be charged with DUI. If you were stopped and arrested for DUI, contact Hager & Schwartz, P.A. today. We want to help you seek justice and reach a favorable outcome. Call us at (954) 840-8713 to begin working on your defense with our expert Fort Lauderdale attorneys.