Narcolepsy And Dui Outcome
Posted 22 June 2010 - 07:14 PM
1. Why didn't I take the standard roadside field sobriety tests? As stupid as it sounds, a good friend who is an attorney told me to never, ever take the tests and you legally do not have to submit to them. All of this is filmed and used as evidence against you in a court of law and helps the officer in obtaining a conviction, sober or not.
2. Why did I refuse the chemical tests? I was fearful that the medication I had been taking for other conditions would show up and I know that even with a prescribed medication in my system, I could still be deemed impaired when the results of a blood test came back even though I had not taken them that night while behind the wheel. I panicked, thinking back to a friend who admitted he took prescribed Xanax on a traffic stop and ended up with a DUI.
3. I don't advise people to not take the tests. I refused because I am hard-headed and I was really intimidated and afraid by the law and made poor choices. I was also very, very nervous.
The story: I was speeding and had passed a car that was going way under the speed limit of 35 mph, late at night. This caught the attention of a cop that was going the opposite direction and he turned around to catch up to me.
I was headed home from being at a friend's house and I do admit I was flying. I saw headlights start to come up on me at a very fast speed and turned down a street that connects to my street. Almost one house away from my own, I see blue lights. I slowed down and the next thing I know, there are four police cars surrounding me. A cop was outside of my window with his gun out telling me to show him my hands.
I had a cigarette in one hand and did what the officer said. He pulled me out of my car at gunpoint and asked me what I was doing. I explained that I didn't see his lights and when I did, I slowed down and stopped. He claimed I was running from him. I admitted that I was driving recklessly and apologized for it. I had an argument with my ex before the traffic stop and I was driving like a fool because I was angry. The more I tried to explain, the worse it got.
I was asked to take one test. It's called the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. This is where an officer has you follow a pen with your eyes and not your head. I did the test and heard the officer comment to the other cops that my pupils were dilated. I heard another one say, "We got us a DUI." I knew at this point that things were really going downhill.
They shined a flashlight directly in my eyes and said that my pupils were fixed and dilated. The officers joked amongst each other about how a person's eyes should be the size of a pencil. Then I was commanded to place my hands on the hood of the running cop car. All these tests were done with flashing lights and spotlights in my face.
They asked for permission to search my vehicle. I let them because there was nothing illegal in there. Two of the cops went and dug furiously through my car. The other two cops sat and questioned me about if I had been drinking alcohol, took any prescription medications, and asked me about medical conditions. I told them I was not on anything and I was not drunk. I didn't get into what my disability is, or having narcolepsy because I knew they were going to arrest me for something at that point.
I spoke to the two cops for at least 25 minutes while my car was searched five times. I was polite to them and did not get sassy with them at all. Then they asked me if I had any physical problems that I felt could interfere with a field sobriety test. I said that I am disabled and I felt that I could not do the tests, and the fact that I was nervous and just had a gun pointed at me had me shook up.
All four cops joked around and whispered things and I was finally asked to do "three simple tests." One was called the heel-to toe walk, another was a trick of some kind with numbers, and the one-leg stand. Two cops were coaxing me to line myself up with their car cameras and they were both telling me to do something different. I told them I felt that I needed an attorney. After I said that, one cop smiled at me and laughed. The other said, "I ain't a doctor but I smell some odor on your breath. I can't make you take these tests, but we need to see if you was alright to even be driving at all tonight." I looked at the laughing cop and said no to the tests.
The pow-wow of 4 cops went on. They went from saying I was on pills, then said I was on marijuana, then said I smelled of booze. They couldn't decide what they were going to say I was on. Then they presented the chemical test and I also said no to it.
I was then placed under arrest for THREE different charges. Evading arrest, DUI and failure to take a blood test. I was one house away from my own home.
Obviously, I got the best attorney I could find and we requested the audio and video from the police. Two months passed and we got nothing. The day of my hearing, they produced a DVD. When I watched the DVD, there was no audio from the other three cops. You could see me talking to them, but no sound at all. The part about my disabilities were completely cut out of the video. I did not stagger, slur my words, or argue with them. The cops that laughed made sure they were out of the camera's range, so there was no proof of that at all. The video was clearly heavily edited. The only proof that existed was that I did not run from them and they only had blue lights on for less than a minute before I was stopped. I clearly did not appear intoxicated at all on the video.
Throughout the whole video, you can hear the two cops say, "Well, if ya ain't got anything you got a reckless, but I want the DUI. The tests were refused and I am gonna charge all three." The other says, "Well, I would too." At the end of the video, after I was already taken to jail, there is audio of the police searching my car a SIXTH time. They found a mason jar of scented bath crystals that a friend had given me and I forgot about. They spent another 30 minutes testing these, thinking that they were at first methamphetamine, and then thinking it was ecstasy. They were bummed out when they found out that it tested negative and it was not illegal drugs. The two never could figure out it was pink, rose-scented bath crystals.
So, my attorney talked to all four cops in court. He told them that I had narcolepsy. The cops agreed to drop the bogus evading arrest charge, and the failure to submit to a chemical test charge but only if I plead guilty to DUI. My hands were tied because the cop said that no matter what, he would have my license for a year. Both my attorney and I knew that if I went to a jury trial, I faced all three charges, one being a felony. With the edited video, not taking the tests, and the word of these jerks, I would never win.
Sadly, I went ahead and plead guilty to DUI to get the other two charges tossed. What made my pupils big? Claritin D-24. I did not have any alcohol that night.
The end result was: Loss of my license for one year. Two days in jail. Over a grand in fines. Over a grand spent on an attorney. Huge bail bond. $100 to get the car out of impound, $500 alcohol education school, and a big sum of money to get my license back in one year and jacked up car insurance. I was lucky enough to have a family member help me financially.
Even when I do regain my license to drive, I doubt I ever will again after going through this total nightmare. All started over speeding and four really bored crooked cops in a small town with nothing better to do. I'll just get a ride to wherever I need to go an not have to worry. Don't let this happen to you! I don't think I will ever trust a police officer as long as I am alive.
Posted 13 July 2010 - 12:42 PM
I just don't understand why you said you hadn't been taking any prescriptions or anything. Sure narcolepsy isn't understood and they could think you were making it up and stuff, but I bet a quick summary about it, and they would have been more inclined to understand.
Obviously they knew you were on something and you were lying about taking anything so that made it all worse. I've asked a few cops I know and they said anyone unwilling to take a test is an instant red flag and pretty much a confession.
It just seems to me that even if the explanation of the narcolepsy and meds didn't do any good and they thought you were lying, if you had taken a drug test at the time you could use it at your defense.
Of course I am sure you are thinking a lot of the same now that it's too late.
I'm glad you followed-up, I hope I don't have the same problem one day.
Posted 11 August 2010 - 05:26 PM
Posted 13 August 2010 - 02:39 PM
It doesn't sound at all like you were struggling with sleepiness while driving in the story you've related. But Cancoffeman, wow! Sounds like you are truly flirting with serious danger. I gave up driving 13 months ago, when I was taking 600mg Provigil every morning. I dozed off twice while driving to the sleep specialist for the appointment at which I got diagnosed with narcolepsy, and afterwards I fell asleep while preparing to pull out of my parking space at the doctor's office. That last time, I had the car in reverse and fell asleep with my foot on the brake - only to wake up several seconds later. My foot had relaxed in my sleep, and I woke up to find myself sitting in a car that was very slowly rolling backwards out of the parking spot. Luckily, in all of those microsleep episodes, I was fine by the grace of God. But I had an accident a few years ago in which I fell asleep while driving for just a few seconds and ran over a curb that was perpendicular to the direction my car was traveling. Again luckily, my daughter and I were alright, and only the wheel and tire were wrecked.
I took a hard look at those experiences, and decided that I liked being alive; I also felt very strongly that I did not want to have to live with having injured or killed one of my children, or someone else in my own family, or a stranger in my path. I know that many PWN can drive safely with Xyrem and/or stimulants, and that's terrific. I'm just not one of them.
Posted 13 August 2010 - 06:09 PM
I'm getting there, i know i should't just usually too tired to think straight about it till i scare myself-
Posted 14 August 2010 - 11:29 PM
Well, be careful, friend. We like you alive, too.
I'm getting there, i know i should't just usually too tired to think straight about it till i scare myself-
Posted 03 September 2010 - 07:20 AM
Posted 27 September 2010 - 06:48 PM
Remember, cops lie. It's standard interrogation procedure. They're allowed to do it. It they tell you your pupils are dilated, that you're acting drunk, or that you're this or you're that, they're lying. In 1600, they could have drown you or set you afire to get you to confess/charge you with a DUI. That authority has been slowly chipped away at, but it's not entirely gone.
The outcome of my experience was much better than yours. However, if I wasn't so on my toes and capable of comprehending everything that was occurring, then it could have easily snowballed into a DUI.
Posted 27 September 2010 - 07:34 PM
Posted 29 September 2010 - 07:12 PM
So Sometimes, can you tell us more about exactly how to be on our toes in that situation? Well, not me, since I don't drive, but how about for the PWN who do? What if there's some "sleep drunkenness" happening, or for somebody like me, some difficulty with motor coordination and balance? What if we've got prescription meds like amphetamines on us, and the police find them? Sounds like you know what to do, and I'm *sure* I wouldn't in that situation....
I don't get the impression that it's a common situation, but when it happens, it's kind of scary and unreal. It's similar to "driving while black"
I won't give out legal advice nor will I assist anyone here or elsewhere in committing a crime. It's helpful to know your rights and what the police can and can't do. There is a fair amount of case law on the topic such as Terry v. Ohio
and Miranda v. Arizona
What's important is the right you have to not be stopped in the first place. These are your fourth amendment rights
and your fifth amendment rights which protect you from self incrimination.
In short, the police may ask you many questions, but in most situations you are not required to answer them. You will though, need to give them basic info such as your name, drivers license, registration, etc. If your unsure, you can just ask the police officers if it's okay for you to leave now. As a rule of thumb, the police should not ask irrelevant questions that significantly prolong the length of the stop.
If you keep an old prescription bottle in your car, I would imagine that it would be sufficient to convince the police that the amphetamines are legally possessed. As for "sleep drunkenness" and coordination and balance problems, that's a little more difficult to explain. Personally, I would be (and in my case was) prepared to pass any possible field sobriety test they can throw at you. While there are legitimate reasons for refusing a sobriety test, many states will penalize you for doing so. They may also ask you questions such as "can I look around your vehicle," or "can you please step out of the your car." From my understanding they can only do those things if you either consent or if they have probable cause. Would the stress of a near police arrest cause mild cataplexy symptoms??? If that's case, I wouldn't want to get out of my car. If I had amphetamines in an unmarked container in my car (and maybe even with an Rx bottle on the back seat) I would make it clear that they did not have consent to search my car.
Has anyone else here had problems with law enforcement that related to their medical condition?
Posted 29 September 2010 - 09:21 PM
Posted 29 September 2010 - 09:30 PM
I don't want to be in a position where a police officer might question my fitness for driving. I imagine that this is the case for anyone with a severe neurological sleep disorder. For that reason, I would only inform the police of my condition as a last resort (say if they found amphetamines in an unmarked container). If they found pills, I would only say that it was a prescription. If they didn't believe me, then I would show them the bottle.
Also, never keep your non-bottled medication in plain view. I would say this regardless of whether your medication is desoxyn, ritalin, nuvigil, aspirin, or vitamin C. It would immediately give an officer probable cause to search you and your vehicle. Officers may search you (and probably your vehicle) without probable cause if it for the purpose of maintaining officer safety. This means that they can, say, pat you down for the sole purpose of looking for weapons. If they find anything that they can argue is a possible weapon, they can remove it from your person to find out what it is. What I'm saying is that you should be careful if you're using a pill box that could be mistaken for a knife or hand gun.
Again, I don't claim to be an expert in anything. Just be careful. You can't always predict how authority will use it's power.