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DUI & Dementia

Question: I am writing to you because my grandmother was charged with DUI in Alpharetta. She doesn’t really drink liquor and she certainly doesn’t do any illegal drugs. I doubt she even knows about marijuana and cocaine and drugs like that.

She was pulled over because the Alpharetta police officer said she was speeding. When she got out of the car she vomited in front of the cop. And she said she was going to faint. I know that looks like she was drunk, but she wasn’t drunk or even buzzed. She is taking medication for her Alzheimer’s disease and the meds have side-effects. Those side-effects include nausea and dizziness.

So because of her medications she couldn’t do any of the cop’s tests and she probably sounded like she was on something. She may have sounded drunk and looked drunk, but it was all about her Alzheimer’s drugs.

She was recently diagnosed with the disease and the doctors are trying different treatments to find out which is the best for her. I know Alzheimer’s is a major problem and many people are suffering with it so I’m trying to find out if any of this can help with her DUI charge.

A.H. in Roswell, GA

Answer: With America’s aging population, Alzheimer’s disease is becoming more prevalent. While there is no treatment as yet for the damage caused by Alzheimer’s to the brain, some medications have been shown to lessen or stabilize its symptoms. As DUI lawyers, we have handled numerous cases of people with Alzheimer’s/dementia.

Some medications used to treat Alzheimer’s patients do have side effects that can include nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Donepezil/Aricept, memantine/Namenda, rivastigmine/Exelon are some drugs (generic and brand name) that are commonly used to treat Alzheimer’s. They have been shown to include those side effects.

As for a DUI defense, the prosecutor has to prove that that your grandmother was a less safe driver because she took the medications. If they can demonstrate that, then, under Georgia law, she can be charged with DUI. However, if she was not a less safe driver and she merely had symptoms like vomiting and dizziness, then she can possibly win her DUI case. Just because someone gets sick or is dizzy does not necessarily mean that they are a less safe driver. We want to prove that it was due to side effects of medication and it did not impair her driving ability.

Please call us so with can schedule a consultation to go over all of the necessary details.

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