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Can you tell if someone is intoxicated by appearance?

If you're accused of a DUI, you probably have some idea about whether or not you were truly pushing the limit with your alcohol intake. For some people accused of drinking and driving or using drugs and driving, the reality is that they didn't. They may fail significant tests but still have no alcohol in their systems.

An interesting thing to understand is that there are many medical conditions that could make a person appear intoxicated. For example, diabetics with high or low blood sugar could look disoriented or unstable. Both ranges could potentially lead to their breath smelling of alcohol due to chemical reactions within the body.

Another kind of medical condition that could look like intoxication is a concussion. Imagine if you were hit on the head. You'd likely be disoriented and confused. You might stumble or slur your speech. Despite that, you have no alcohol in your system. Instead, you need medical help in the time that could be wasted testing you for alcohol intoxication.

Doctors and nurses are aware that appearances aren't everything, so if you're taken to the hospital for tests and are accused of being intoxicated, don't think that everyone is against you. There are real cases of people with medical conditions where their own bodies naturally intoxicate them with fermentation in the stomach, and there are dozens of reasons why a single drink might have led to extreme reactions.

With up to 73.8 percent of doctors and nurses in one study admitting to not having specific training for drug and alcohol-related issues, it's a good idea to know your rights if you're accused of being intoxicated. A mistaken diagnosis could impact your case.

Source: The Conversation, "Doctors and nurses can’t always tell if someone’s drunk or on drugs, and misdiagnosis can be dangerous," accessed May 03, 2018

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