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Can a Medical Emergency Be Mistaken for DUI?

Not long ago we wrote about a local school bus driver who was arrested for DUI with a bus full of kids. That driver has now been vindicated and was not under the influence of any substance. So what happened? The answer is an important lesson for both law enforcement and drivers.

The driver in question is 60-year-old Dorothy Youngs. She was arrested in June after Virginia Beach Police received reports that her school bus was swerving. The bus was pulled over and Youngs was asked to perform field sobriety tests in a nearby parking lot. When she failed, she was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Her bus was full of 5- to 12-year-old children. Parents and the public were understandably upset.

However, investigators have now cleared Dorothy Youngs of all charges. She was never under the influence at all. Rather, she was having a medical emergency when she was arrested.

Unusual Symptoms

The new information helps solve a puzzle that never made sense in the original story. No one accused Youngs of drinking and driving—she was accused of driving under the influence of drugs. Witnesses reported that she was completely unaware of her surroundings, and police helped hold her up. It seems unusual that a 60-year-old woman with no drug history would be using so many illegal drugs that she couldn’t even walk. A health problem that affected her driving makes a lot more sense.

Investigators did not disclose the nature of the health problem. It could have been critically low blood sugar, a seizure, or any of dozens of other conditions that can strike with little warning. What is clear is that it affected not only her driving ability, but the safety of her passengers as well. This comes with two lessons:

  • Police should be trained to recognize health problems. Instead of rushing Youngs to the hospital police forced her to complete sobriety tests and then took her to jail. Thankfully Youngs is alive, but if she had been having a stroke it could be a very different story.
  • If drivers are experiencing distress, they should pull over immediately. Whether it’s a migraine, dizziness, chest pain or symptoms you cannot explain, you should not be behind the wheel. Pulling over and calling for help not only means you won’t be mistaken for a drunk driver, it will also help prevent a potentially serious accident.

We’re glad Ms. Youngs had a talented legal team that was able to gather evidence and clear her name. It is much harder to fight a DUI charge alone. If you need an experienced DUI defense lawyer, contact The Wilson Law Firm for your free consultation today.

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