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How might a traumatic brain injury lead to a traffic stop?

In and of itself, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is not a legal matter. However, in some cases, driving with a TBI could result in allegations of criminal activity.

Head trauma is different for everyone, both in symptoms and recovery. Yet, some common effects of a TBI could give law enforcement officers reason to suspect you are driving drunk.

Potential signs of drunk driving

Like alcohol, a brain injury can affect awareness, coordination, vision and processing. Therefore, getting in the driver’s seat may pose a safety risk.

Depending on an officer’s observations and roadside tests, you could face driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges, regardless of how much you’ve had to drink. A traffic stop would not be out of the question for erratic behavior such as:

  • Inaccuracy in judging distance
  • Speed variation
  • Hesitation in making decisions
  • Drifting into adjacent lanes
  • Failure to adhere to traffic signs or signals

A motor vehicle accident, or close call, may also indicate a safety risk, presumably related to alcohol or substance consumption.

Get back behind the wheel

If you would like to drive after suffering a TBI, you should plan on completing a safety and skill assessment. Depending on your circumstances, your physician’s approval to drive may depend on the completion of further training or the implementation of adaptive equipment in your vehicle.

Meanwhile, a permanent record, fines and lost driving privileges should not add to your trauma. If you get arrested for drunk driving because of a TBI, you might decide challenging your DWI charges is an important part of reclaiming the life you once enjoyed.

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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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