A man with multiple sclerosis was taken into custody by California Highway Patrol on July 22. According to officers, the man was stopped while walking on the freeway. Officers stated that the man reportedly smelled of alcohol. The man was offered multiple rides to a safe location by CHP officers, but he allegedly walked away after refusing the offers. Officers tried to take the man into custody, but he reportedly resisted.
The defendant was booked into jail in central Bakersfield and was released before his family arrived to pick him up. The CHP is suggesting that the defendant should be charged with resisting arrest and public intoxication. The defendant disappeared after being released from custody. On July 24, a criminal defense attorney said that the man had been located and is safe. According to the attorney, the man's medical condition can make him seem intoxicated.
There are some medical conditions that can make a person appear intoxicated. This is one possible reason why roadside sobriety tests are considered less reliable than blood or breath tests. For example, Multiple Sclerosis can cause a person to slur his or her speech and appear unsteady on his or her feet.
A criminal defense attorney may discredit a roadside sobriety test with the testimony of a medical expert who can explain how the symptoms of MS can mimic the appearance of intoxication. If the defendant wishes to avoid a trial, the attorney may suggest a plea deal. Depending on the defendant's history, it might be possible to arrange for favorable terms with the prosecution. Source: Health Central, "'I'm not drunk, I just have MS!' Slurred speech as a symptom of MS," Merely me, May 5, 2009
Source: KERO Bakersfield, "Family: Man suffering with Multiple Sclerosis mistakenly arrested", July 24, 2014