Receiving Medical Attention After a DUI in DC

When a person is arrested for a DUI in DC, they could be sent to a hospital for medical attention if the police officer believes the person is intoxicated to the point of being at risk of serious medical consequences. For example, if a person is vomiting heavily when they are pulled over, the police officer may feel the person should be taken to the hospital for possible alcohol poisoning.

A person may also be taken to a hospital for medical attention upon being stopped for a suspected DUI if the person discloses they have an urgent medical issue. For example, if a person is having an extreme anxiety attack or is suffering from some kind of psychological episode that poses a danger to the officer or other people around them, that could result in the police officer taking the driver in for medical attention.

A third circumstance in which a person is taken for medical attention by a police officer is when the driver was in a car accident that resulted in an injury requiring immediate medical attention. If a person is in a car accident, a police officer should not first conduct his rights or other DUI section investigation tactics when the person is seriously injured, has a concussion, or is unconscious.

Difficulty of Determining Medical Needs

Police officers are not doctors and for the most part, have no medical training. On the scene, police officers use their general knowledge and common sense to determine when a person should receive medical attention and when a person is able to participate in a DUI investigation.

There are some situations where the answer is obvious. If there is a vehicle accident in which the suspect is seriously injured, the police officer should know that the person should receive medical attention first and not be asked to participate in field sobriety tests or other DUI investigation tactics before receiving medical attention.

Some situations are more difficult to determine. For example, if there is a vehicle accident where a defendant might have received a concussion, a police officer may not know the person had a concussion because the person does not know they have a concussion.

There are other situations where a police officer may believe that a suspect is heavily intoxicated to the point where they need immediate medical attention. The officer could decide that they should do field sobriety testing first to get evidence against the person before they allow them to receive medical attention.

Police officers have a significant amount of leeway and should know there are certain situations where the health of the suspect takes precedence over the police officer’s desire to obtain evidence for a criminal case.

Injuries That May Impact a DUI Case

There are certain medical conditions that could have an impact on a person’s DUI case. For example, if a person is in a vehicle collision and as a result of the vehicle collision suffers a concussion, the symptoms of a concussion can sometimes be confused with the symptoms of being under the influence of alcohol.

Symptoms such as short-term memory loss, slurred speech, and difficulty keeping their balance can be confused with intoxication when they are actually the result of a concussion. If the police officer does not immediately allow a person in a vehicle collision to receive medical attention and instead, has the person do field sobriety testing, the suspect may show signs of impairment during the field sobriety tests that are actually signs of a medical issue other than alcohol consumption.

A possible defense in a DUI case occurs when an officer confuses signs of a concussion with signs of impairment. When a person suffers a concussion and is not taken to the hospital by the police, that person should immediately, upon their release, seek medical attention to determine if they suffered a concussion or other kind of head trauma. They should discuss that issue with their lawyer to see if it can be used as a defense in their DUI case.

Not Receiving Medical Attention

If an individual required medical attention but did not receive it, it is important for a lawyer to know, as that information may be used to determine if the medical issue the person was suffering from had any impact on the DUI investigation.

As an example, if a person was in a car accident and had a concussion, but did not receive immediate medical attention for that concussion, the lawyer will consider whether the person’s injury had an effect on the results of any field sobriety tests or other DUI investigation tactics related to the person’s case.

Many medical issues, if not immediately treated, have long-term consequences and more immediate consequences for a person’s criminal charge.

Establishing a Medical Defense

Receiving medical attention for any possible health issues is essential to a person’s well-being. It can also be extremely helpful for their DUI case to have documentation from a medical professional stating any other medical issues the person was experiencing that could have been confused for intoxication. Having that documentation from a professional who is well qualified to offer those opinions is very important to establish medical defenses as opposed to the testimony from the injured person who may not be an expert in those medical issues.

Refusing Medical Attention

If a police officer asks a person stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence, whether they want medical attention, the person may refuse medical attention. There are certain situations in which a police officer may take a person to the hospital even if they refuse medical attention if it appears the person may not have the ability to determine whether they need medical attention. There are also some situations where a police officer may take a suspect to a hospital for a blood draw even if that is against the person’s will.

It is not a good idea for lawyers to advise people on when to refuse medical attention. If a person is stopped by the police and believes they are suffering a medical problem, the first concern for that person is to take care of their health instead of being concerned about how it may affect a possible criminal case. A criminal case has very serious consequences but never as serious as the consequences for not receiving medical attention for an urgent health issue.

Reasons to Contact a Lawyer

A person who received medical attention during a DUI stop should discuss any medical issues with their DUI lawyer. A lawyer may consult with outside experts and medical professionals to determine whether the medical issue a person suffered at the time of the DUI stop or in the past is usable as a defense in the DUI case.

There are a number of medical issues that can serve as evidence to contradict claims made by police officers or prosecutors in DUI cases. Having a lawyer experienced with those issues can make the difference between having a judge or jury hear that evidence and having them hear only the police or prosecutor’s version of events.