A Call to Action: Combatting the Rise of Elderly DUI and DUI for Seniors
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In recent years, drivers over the age of 60 and older have been committing an increasingly larger number of the Nevada DUI offenses than ever before. This is due to many reasons, including the fact that people over the last few decades have a significantly longer life span.
Also, many drivers 50 and above are taking one or more medications that can adversely affect their ability to drive safely.
While DUI arrests are generally straightforward, seniors over the age of 60 may face unique challenges.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI and is elderly, you need an attorney that specializes in Elderly DUI cases. Call The Defenders today.
Decline in Driving Ability After the Age of 60
Drivers who are 60 years or older tend to have a decline in their ability to drive safely as they get older. As people age, their vision, hearing, and reflexes can deteriorate, making it more difficult to drive safely.
Adults with diminished abilities to drive have a tendency to get more frequent traffic violations, such as running stop signs or maintaining one’s position within a traffic lane.
If a person commits any traffic violation no matter how minor a traffic officer has the right to stop the person. Once pulled over, the officer will speak with the driver if the officer thinks the driver is under the influence, then further DUI tests will be administered.
Remember, Nevada DUI laws also includes impairment by drugs—including prescription drugs—which many seniors take on a daily basis.
Field Sobriety Tests for The Elderly
Often, when a person is pulled over for suspicion of DUI, the officers on the scene will administer a field sobriety test. However, for the elderly, this becomes more complicated.
Drivers over the age of 60 may suffer from physical or medical conditions or impairments that could affect the ability to perform effectively on Field Sobriety Tests.
Field Sobriety Tests were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to determine if a person is intoxicated or impaired in the field. The three standard tests that are given when a defendant is pulled over include:
- the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (following a stimulus with your eyes),
- the one leg stand test, and
- the walk and turn test
All these tests are based on a person’s physical agility and balance. However, for elderly people physical impairment can cause them to fail a test despite being under the legal limit of intoxication.
Therefore, it is important for elderly DUI defendants to have an experienced attorney who is familiar with the special considerations that are involved in Elderly DUI cases.
Your defense team can show how a poor performance on a field sobriety test was actually caused by a pre-existing condition and not intoxication.
Elderly DUI and Medical Conditions
Elderly drivers may have medical conditions that can affect their ability to drive or submit to a field sobriety test when pulled over.
Some common medical conditions that can cause a person’s ability to drive even sober include:
- Dementia, sleep apnea, hormonal imbalance or other cognitive issues can cause a person to cognitive impairment when pulled over
- Red glassy eyes caused by allergies, dehydration, or a common eye condition can cause an offer to assume you’ve been drinking
- A previous stroke or neuromuscular disorder, speech impediment can affect the speech pattern for an elderly driver.
- Inner ear issues, joint issues, age ,injuries, or stress can adversely affect a person’s balance during a field sobriety test
- Diabetes and lack of insulin can cause a driver to become disoriented and can be mistaken for drunk or impaired driving
Any previous or underlying medical conditions can lead police to assume that person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. That’s why it is important to have experienced legal representation when dealing with Elderly DUI cases.
Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs
Individuals aged 60 or older often consume and combine a higher number of medications compared to younger individuals. However, it is essential to remember that driving while under the influence of drugs, along with driving under the influence of alcohol, is classified as a DUI offense.
Usually, when people think of DUI and drugs, they think of street drugs like cocaine or heroin. However, a person can be convicted of driving under the influence if certain prescription medications are discovered in their system.
A blood test is the only way to determine what drugs are in someone’s system and can be administered at the police station or the hospital.
Depending on whether the driver consents to the blood draw or not, a search warrant may have to be issued to get a blood sample.
How Prescription Drugs Affect Driving
Prescription drugs, especially sedatives, can have an adverse effect on your ability to drive a vehicle safely. While these medications may be helpful in treating certain medical conditions, they can also impair your ability to drive.
Taking certain prescription medications, particularly for drivers over 60, can impair their ability to drive safely. Additionally, if a driver consumes alcohol while taking these medications, it can amplify these effects. Some prescriptions and alcohol don’t mix and have an adverse reaction.
Some of the most common prescription drugs that the elderly may be taking on a regular basis that may have an adverse effect when mixed with alcohol are:
- Anti-anxiety drugs
- Diabetes drugs
- Blood Thinners
Therefore, it is important for elderly drivers to be aware of the potential side effects and interactions between their medication and alcohol before getting behind the wheel.
Disoriented Driving and the Elderly
Elderly drivers are more likely to become disoriented due to slower reaction time or not knowing their surroundings.
Elderly drivers can become confused while driving at night or if they are driving in bad weather. They may also not be familiar with the roads they are driving in.
When elderly drivers become disoriented and confused, they can begin to drive erratically or make dangerous turns without signaling. This often leads police officers to believe they have been drinking or using drugs even if they haven’t.
Because of this, the Nevada DMV applies special rules to drivers over the age of 65 that must renew their driver’s license more frequently.
Driver’s 72 and older can only renew their license in person. They must also submit to vision tests.
Drivers of any age may face a license revocation for exhibiting dementia, blindness, physical incapacity or any other impairments that can diminish their ability to drive including medications.
Elderly DUI Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI and are elderly, it is important that you consult with a Nevada DUI expert as soon as possible.
The Defenders are experts in fighting DUI cases on behalf of clients of all ages.
There are several unique issues that elderly drivers charged with DUI face including driving under the influence of medications. The Defenders will investigate your elderly DUI case to determine if the police were mistaken in charging you with DUI if you take certain medication or have certain medical conditions that could be mistaken for DUI.
Any DUI arrest will result in the same outcome. Most people will be brought to the police station and arrested, even elderly drivers, this can be a very fearful experience for anyone but more so for an elderly person.
If your loved one has been arrested for DUI and is elderly contact The Defenders immediately, we will help your family get your loved one released from jail as soon as possible.
Contact The Defenders today if you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI.