When an individual is pulled over and later arrested for drunk driving—driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI)—most people associate the problematic link between driving and drinking. Teen drivers, in particular, are quickly stereotyped for demonstrating this careless “behavior.”
Instead of exhibiting symptoms of drunkenness, what if the individual actually suffers from depression or anxiety? Personal symptoms of depression or anxiety differ among people.
According to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), a person suffering from anxiety often suffers from depression as well. Therefore, it’s sensible that presenting symptoms might be significant enough for a police officer to mistakenly assume the driver is drunk.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a range of symptoms are common amongst patients suffering from a mental disorder, including weakness, nervousness, poor concentration, or fatigue.
When a driver is first pulled over by a law enforcement officer, he or she is likely to appear quite tense and nervous. If the officer demands that the driver take field sobriety tests, such as walking a straight line, he or she may demonstrate concentration difficulties. His or her nervousness could easily affect the ability to walk in a straight line and turn.
If a driver who suffers from depression and anxiety is required to submit to field sobriety testing, his appearance of lax muscle strength or inability to concentrate might be enough behavioral evidence for the officer to assume that he or she is intoxicated. If the driver sweats or trembles out of fear or anxiety during a field sobriety test, this isn’t “proof” of intoxication. It’s symptomatic of mental illness as well.
Although not every DUI/DWI case relies on this type of defense, a Time Magazine article concerning young adults’ depression and anxiety could potentially support the defense of a drunk driving charge in New Jersey.
Contact The Law Offices of John W. Tumelty at 609.385.4010 now if you believe depression or anxiety may have contributed to your recent DUI/DWI arrest in New Jersey.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.