If police officers suspect you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, roadside stops and other interactions can quickly go from bad to worse. An otherwise routine exchange could ultimately end with an arrest or criminal charges, even if you didn’t drink or consume drugs.
Such events could happen if you have other conditions that mimic signs of impairment.
Drunk, drugged or something else?
When police stop drivers, they will almost certainly look for indications of intoxication or drug impairment. These signs can include:
- Red, glassy eyes
- Slurred speech
- Poor balance
- Smelling of drugs or alcohol
- Delayed reaction time
However, various other conditions can cause one or more of these symptoms. For instance:
- Ataxia can compromise a person’s balance.
- Mental health conditions can cause confusion.
- Allergies can lead to red, dry or watery eyes.
- A traumatic brain injury could affect a person’s responses to stress.
- Extreme fatigue can cause delayed reaction times.
While one symptom alone typically will not indicate impairment, it is all that the police need to investigate further. Officers might administer roadside tests or conduct a search, which could lead to criminal allegations that may not even be related to impairment.
Protecting yourself and your rights
Unfortunately, motorists are often at a disadvantage when it comes to knowing what to do during a traffic stop. You might be emotional or eager to prove your innocence, which could ultimately backfire when police use certain tactics and tools against you.
Thus, it is crucial to understand your rights when talking to the police if you experience conditions like those we mentioned above.
Generally speaking, you do not need to answer questions, and you have the right to refuse to consent to searches. These measures can prevent police from getting incriminating information that they can use against you. If you do wind up arrested after a traffic stop, you have the right to speak with a lawyer.
This information, along with measures like carrying the appropriate paperwork, can help you protect yourself and your rights if police officers pull you over for drunk or drugged driving.