The impact of drugs on field sobriety test performance

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2017 | Field Sobriety Tests

Police who suspect drivers of being under the influence generally ask them to perform multiple sobriety tests. With powerful painkillers and other prescription medications so easy to obtain, it’s possible to “pass” a breathalyzer test with flying colors and badly fail other field sobriety tests. The recent DUI arrest of golf legend Tiger Woods highlights that.

The police dashcam video of Woods struggling to perform field sobriety tests including reciting the alphabet and following a light may be painful for his fans to watch. However, they show how badly even legal drugs can impact a person’s reflexes.

Woods, who was arrested after police found him asleep in his Mercedes with the motor running late last month, admitted both to officers and in a public statement, that he had taken more than one prescription medication. The golfer, who has had multiple surgeries for back injuries, said, “I didn’t realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly.”

He said, “I want the public to know that alcohol was not involved.” However, driving under the influence of both legal and illegal drugs has increasingly become a danger to those on our roads. Concerns about the dangers of strong prescription drugs, including addiction, have prompted both insurance companies and health care professionals to promote other types of pain management.

It can be more difficult to prove that someone has been driving under the influence of drugs than of alcohol. Depending on the medication, the amount and a person’s tolerance for it, they may be able to perform all field sobriety tests adequately.

Sometimes, the best evidence that prosecutors have is a driver’s own admission that he or she has taken drugs recently. People often think that as long as the drugs were legally prescribed, there’s no problem. However, if authorities believe that your ability to drive safely was compromised, you could face DUI charges.

That’s why it’s important, while remaining polite to officers, not to volunteer information during a traffic stop or sobriety checkpoint. Contact an experienced Baltimore defense attorney as soon as possible and follow that attorney’s advice.

Source: Fortune, “Tiger Woods DUI Shines a Light on Prescription Drug Dangers,” Sy Mukherjee, May 30, 2017

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