Medical Conditions That Can Be Mistaken as DWI

By Brock Benjamin
Founding Attorney

What possible defenses can I raise against a DWI charge in Texas?

The Texas Department of Transportation reports that every 20 minutes, someone in Texas is hurt or killed in a drunk driving accident.  To combat the alarming rates of drunk driving, Texas lawmakers and prosecutors take a tough stance on DWIs.  Texans convicted of a DWI could face loss of their driver’s license for a year or more, hefty fines, and jail time, along with a criminal record.

Texas law provides that drivers can be arrested even if their BAC does not exceed the legal limit if police officers detect evidence of intoxication.  Potential evidence includes slurred speech, lack of motor control, or balance issues.  However, certain medical conditions can also cause a driver to display such behavior.  Even further, some medical conditions can actually influence the results of a breathalyzer test.  Our El Paso DWI attorneys explore the medical conditions that could be confused for DWI and your defense rights below.


Diabetes affects a sufferer’s ability to control their blood sugar.  A person who has diabetes could experience a wide array of symptoms should their blood sugar suddenly drop.  Diabetics who are driving at the time that their blood sugar drops could appear intoxicated, with common symptoms including dizziness, disorientation, a fruity body odor and acetone breath, and inability to concentrate, among other symptoms.


Epilepsy is a seizure condition that can occur quite suddenly and unexpectedly.  Epileptic seizures occur due to abnormal electrical activity within the brain. A driver that suddenly suffers a seizure could be mistaken for a drunk driver, as the driver may display dizziness, staring spells, unresponsiveness, and aggression.  Seizures can occur even in individuals without a history of the disorder.

Asthma and Other Lung Disorders

Pulmonary or lung disorders can potentially impact the results of a breath test.  Drivers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD may lack the breathing power to successfully complete a breath test. This could lead to officers concluding the defendant is intoxicated or willfully refusing the test.  Studies have further shown that asthma sufferers who take inhaled medications could raise a false positive on a breathalyzer test.

Gastro Disorders

Drivers with acid reflux or GERD will often test higher on a blood alcohol breath test than non-gastro sufferers.  False positives can occur because the acid within the stomach of a GERD sufferer builds up to reach the esophagus, thus leading to inflated alcohol readings when the driver must exhale deeply.

Anyone facing DWI charges in Texas should contact a DWI lawyer as soon as possible.  A DWI conviction could have grave consequences on your freedom and future.  Act now to start building your strong defense today.


About the Author
Brock Benjamin is board-certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  His practice is primarily state and federal criminal law and appeals.Brock 

Posted in: DWI