Chat and Community Forums Closed

Due to the popularity of social media, we have seen decreasing engagement on our forums and chat. Please know we want to keep talking to you about epilepsy, seizures, and what you need. We want to stay connected with you.

Community Forum

Being Arrested For Having A Seizure.

Has this ever happened to anyone?2 months ago I had a seizure while driving. I hadn't had one while awake for over a year. I woke up in the back of a police car. Asked where I was and was told I was drunk and had caused an accident. I told the officer " I don't drink. I had a seizure." I lost conciousness again. I had on my medic alert. I had hit a building, breathalizer at 0, they didn't care. My I.D card even states that If something happens please call my home to check on my daughter. Nothing was done. I was still charged with impaired driving. They refuse to admit a letter from my doctor. The main reason for this post is that the Police need to pay closer attention. This has happened to many people in my area. Having a seizure on the street and being arrested. My wrists were bruised from the handcuffs. I must have resisted. Maybe if there is more understanding the Police will shown more restraint in dealing with someone having a seizure.

Comments

RE: Being Arrested For Having A Seizure.

I'm sorry you had to experience that. I've been there more than once myself. Giving the judge my medic alerts didn't change things. (except that I stopped wearing them NOT VERY SMART) It made a statement. Made me feel better about it, but the only thing that stopped the arrests for driving drunk was that I said to hell with it and stopped driving. I just never bothered to try to get my lisence back. The state took it and I let them keep it. I'm not suggesting that anyone else do that. I had simply had enough. Things have changed a lot since I stopped driving. I think that this is one of the few states that still hasn't changed it's requirements. No matter though. I have bigger problems than the DMV. You, I would suggest, hire a lawyer. You wear a medic alert for a reason. We are trained to look for these. If Police can't tell the difference between a seizure and drunkeness, they need training. Okay, maybe it's not so easy to tell someone who's postictal from someone who's drunk, but if the person says they had a seizure at least look into that possibility. I think that once you told them that and pointed out or they saw the medic alert, they messed up by leaving you handcuffed. If you didn't break the law and weren't a threat to anyone, the cuffs were an unnecessary and/or excessive use of force. I'm not a lawyer, just an ole corrections officer who was forced out because he had some seizures at home. Only an attorney can tell you this for sure. We can all cut them some slack and understand that they have to protect themselves. I'd be willing to bet that they try to say that it was for your protection though. (Like I said, I've been through it too.) The slack that we cut them does not mean that we have to risk injury to ourselves. On a seperate note, Of course you resisted! Why wouldn't you? If anyone can't understand that, let's see: You were confused, frightened, angry AND someone you didn't know was trying to restrain you against your will! Hey guess what?, Nobody had better even try to hold it against you! They need a better way. If they won't listen to us, what can do? Anyway really get a lawyer. I would consider seeing about the posibility of legal action. maybe you can do something about the lack of training....GOOD Health and Good Luck

Re: Being Arrested For Having A Seizure.

You know you really should seek a lawyer about this situation. There is a definite battle that needs to be won.

Re: Re: Being Arrested For Having A Seizure.

John M
It is unfortunate that my comments have apparently upset some members. This will be my final posting on this matter – my only purpose was to try to provide the data to make an intelligent impartial decision. There seem to be a general tone on the website that the Medic Alert bracelet should serve as a free pass. I am not seeking to cause a war with members. All I do ask for an impartial review of the incident and the police response

momof1's statements

1.” I woke in the back of a police car”
2. “They refused to admit a letter from a doctor.” Who? If this is a criminal case it is neither the job nor the right of the Police to be the judge on the legitimacy of that letter - is it possible this letter might be a forgery?
3. “This has happened to many people in my area.” Where? I worked in a city with 8 million people and I can’t corroborate that statement.
4. “I must have resisted”
5. ”I don't think I had a seizure.” If this is true what influence does an epileptic Medic Alert bracelet have on the situation?

If mom can’t articulate herself what had transpired why are the Police being judged to be the perpetrators of an undetermined injustice?

Let me offer a hypothetical but very credible situation. Monof1 hits a mother and child walking on a sidewalk and they are critically injured. The police go to the home of the injured family to make a notification - a standard policy for death or near death incidents because there have too many situations that the person notified via telephone becomes seriously injured when he or she faints and hits their head or the notification triggers another medical emergency such as a cardiac. If all goes well and police can transport the family to the nearby hospital the question arises "what happened" should the police respond "They were hit by a woman who says she is an epileptic and since she was wearing a Medic Alert tag and we let her go” or should the Police lie?

The police officers involved in the real incident acted properly By bringing Mom to the precinct several things could be accomplished The negative IDTU testing documents that any behavior at the scene that might be interpreted as intoxication by witnesses was definitely not the result of intoxication. (I do not have the data available to determine the basis for an Impaired Driving charge- Intoxicated Driving and Impaired Driving is not synonymous) This helps to protect both the mom and the police involved by defusing possible allegations of favoritism or malfeasance. While this test is being conducted another important investigation could be initiated. An investigation must be conducted to determine if this driver did have proper authorization to do so – an investigation which only takes a telephone call because information should be available thru DMV if the correct protocol had been followed. The PD computers have access to DMV records. If the data can’t be obtained, mom may be released with a special criminal summons, but there will be a follow-up investigation and she will be rearrested if the subsequent investigation does not produce the documentation

Mom would be arrested on a felony charge of Reckless Endangerment and processed for a criminal arraignment before a Judge who would determine if the woman should be remanded till the hearing or set the terms for a bail-release
could be initiated. "If this person is epileptic who was the medical doctor who provided the current authorization to do so. If Mom did not have any current approval, this is not a summons able offense. Mom would be arrested for a charge more serious than a misdemeanor Impaired Driving which could eventually be processed as a non-arraignment arrest. Mom would be arrested on a felony charge of Reckless Endangerment and processed for a criminal arraignment before a Judge who would determine if the woman she be remanded till a hearing or set the terms for a bail-release
It must be stressed Medical Alert bracelet is no free pass for an epileptic while driving - if anything it is a flare that a more thorough police investigation should be conducted – it provides no special privileges like a registration plate with the Disabled logo For those who believe that the "...police should be more understanding and fair" they are correct - if you were the family member being transported to the hospital to see their dead or dying loved ones who were just walking down a street when they crushed between a car and a building wall, what response would you want to hear to the question "what did you do?"

This is a long entry but I must try to impress that the above investigation is typical of one performed by professional police agencies and one which citizens have a right to demand. If anyone believes that a medical alert bracelet is a free pass that will absolve the wearer of his or her responsibilities that person is very mistaken.

I exhort anyone who is prone to seizures to cease driving – the medical alert bracelet does not provide and special privileges like the disabled symbol on registration plates
STOP DRIVING BEDORE YOU FIND THE MOTHER AND CHILD WHO ARE WAITING FOR YOU

Re: Being Arrested For Having A Seizure.

Re:post seizure arrest and handcuffing

I am a retired police officer from a large municipal police departrment and I too have had non-vehicle accidents seizure related- a parked unoccupied car - a dead end barrier - a house before I had to finally surrender and admit that I can not drive and that I was playing Russian roulette with other persons lives. I am the driver police are most concerned about because they don't know what happened If I were a police officer responding to an accident that appeared to have no contributing factors and the driver appeared to be sober but coming out of a non-grand mal I would suspect there is a possibility that drugs were involved or a more serious condition than seizures. I spent 32 years on patrol -22 of them in supervisory ranks who confirms and authorizes an arrest. In those 32 years I never experienced a driver whom I believed had suffered a seizure.If they had any indications were masked because they were unconscious or in shock from their injuries and then the first priority is to get injured person help. Police assume if a person is suffering seizures he or she would not have a license or would be more responsible than me and not be driving. Seizure related accidents are minute possibility compared to alcohol or drug related(whether legal or illegal) incidents.I don't know how to train a police officer to distinguish a post-seizure victim from one who passed-out from an overdose and the shock of the accident revived him or her.
The theme stressed to all police officers from NYPD to Mayberry is personal safety and never take unnecessary risks - imagine if a police officer was transporting an arrested person to a police facility unhandcuffed and the person suddenly had a violent psychotic episode - even handcuffed this has happened numerous times.Pisoners go psycho in cells occupied with fellow prisoners - we don't know what is going to happen 5 minutes in the future. Personal safety or handcuffs - which should have the priority? Handcuffs have one purpose - SAFETY-to protect our police, our community and even the person arrested

Re: Re: Being Arrested For Having A Seizure.

John:
..and all others in this conversation. I am new on the Epilepsy site even though I have had Epilepsy since 1998. Excuse my novice comments.

I will offer my own insites. In August of 2000, I had a seizure while driving, hit two occupied cars in front of me, injured the occupants, and then proceeded to cross a median and hit a brick wall miraculously without hitting any other oncoming traffic. I was wearing an Epilepsy chain, had a card in my billfold. I was treated VERY well by the officers on the scene. Although I was not apparently injured, they took me to the nearest hospital for observation and help. I applaud their efforts since, as you say John, it is very difficult to discern what drug-related state I may have been in. For all they knew, I could have picked up those medical ids to hide my drug habits - they can be purchased anywhere.

All this to say, I was handled well. Arrest and the resistance to arrest thing puzzles me. When I have had a seizure, I can't resist anything. I am so tired for such a long time, I just want to sleep. I can barely talk. This is just MY reaction and I am not speaking for anyone else so please don't be offended. Restraint on a gurney should work (in most cases), however, rather than arrest????

I was very lucky because the police report had an eye witness that stated that they observed that: "he began to shake as if he was having a seizure or something and then his car spead up and hit 2 cars..."

I was unlucky because I was (not unexpectedly) sued by both sets of people I hit and hurt. That whole process is yet another story in itself. The litigation dragged on for three years and the depositions and the lawyers representing the plaintiffs were the ones I was miffed at. I DID feel like a criminal throughout that process and the plaintiffs were "encouraged" to get as much money as they could. Lawyers make me mad .... :(~ Sorry if there are any good ones reading this.

Last, like you John, I understand the integrity associated with having Epilepsy and driving. Driving is a privilege not a right. I made a promise to myself right after that accident to not drive. I chose a a 2 continuous year period even though my state allows a 6 month seizure free period. I am not there yet but will be in 1 week. Yup, it's been 5 and 1/2 years since I have driven, very incovenient, but worth it. I LOVE to drive. God has given me the patience and the ability to move ahead. The peace of mind is far better than the inconvenience. If I have another seizure while driving, I likely will choose not to drive again.

Keep on, John, and for all of you others I totally sympathize with you also. For all of us, this is never an easy or predicatable journey!!!!

Re: Re: Re: Being Arrested For Having A Seizure.

On a slightly different note I had a seizure whilst riding my bike round to a friends house. I came round in hospital accompanied by a policeman who told me I was under arrest because in that usual post seizure state I had given him an ounce bag of grass that i was taking round to my friends house. Anyway the silver lining was it was laughed out of the police station. The desk sergeant thought it was hilarious. Of course the only downside was i lost the grass still you can't have everything in life can you.

This happened to me last

This happened to me last Saturday. I had a seizure while driving and had a car accident. I don't remember anything befire or during the accident. I just remember people at my car asking me if I was okay. I didn't know what they were talking about and they told me I had a car accident. I knew something was very wrong but I couldn't comprehend what they were saying. I got out of the car with my purse and asked if someone would bring me home. I thought I could walk home but after a couple houses I realized that I had no idea where I was. I've lived in this neighborhood for 40 years (with the exception of college) and I know this neighborhood like the back of my hand. IDazed and confused, I decided I better sit down on the sidewalk and wait for help. I tried to comprehend where I was but I couldn't and I couldn't figure out why I was so lost. Before I knew it, a police officer was putting handcuffs on me and reading me my rights while I was being arrested for a hit and run. I have bruises in both wrists and was placed in the back of a police car with the windows rolled up and the air conditioning closed off by the device that separates the front seat and the back seat of the police car. I remember sitting back there crying with my dress soaked with sweat, not understanding quite what was happening but knowing it was really bad and feeling sad and very scared. I repeatedly asked the officers to call my mother but they refused. Eventually I was able to make contact with an officer (as I was handcuffed in a closed car) and by this time I knew I had a seizure but was still disoriented. I told him that the heat may induce another seizure and could I at least have some warm air on me? They were making it very clear that I was being treated as a criminal and therefore not allowed any basic rights but if they would just open a window I could have a little wind to cool me off because I was drenched in sweat. The officer asked me in a condescending tone why I would want to induce another seizure. Long story short, they brought me home, the arrest stands, my car was impounded and I can't afford to get it out so I've had to relinquish my vehicle. I feel violated and victimized by the very people who I trusted to serve and protect me. Later the officer apologized when my mother exclaimed, "couldn't you tell she was in distress???" She stood up for me because I was unable to speak for myself. He then tried calling his sergeant, requesting permission to retract the arrest but he stated that it was not possible. I hadn't thought about hiring an attorney until stumbling across this thread.

Our Mission

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

 
24/7 helpline
P