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How anxiety can affect performance in sobriety tests

| Aug 28, 2020 | Firm News, OWI |

You’re out and about. The sun is on your skin and you’re enjoying a beer with some colleagues or some friends. Life is good. You know your limits and that you need to get behind the wheel, so you balance out your beverage intake with water and you wait until you can confidently say “I’m OK to drive.”

So little did you expect those dreaded flashing lights behind you after you pulled away from the bar. With a turn of the wheel, you’re now on the side of the road, sweating it out, watching as the police officer approaches your car. And while you may feel sober enough to complete roadside sobriety tests, another factor might distract you.

The role of anxiety in a pullover

Some may suffer from test anxiety, but an OWI pullover can put it on a whole different level. You don’t get time to study before the test, nor do you get to sit in a comfortable desk and take your time. You’re listening to a police officer tell you how what’s expected, and you’re generally expected to get it right on the first try. It’s a lot of pressure.

Many Americans suffer from anxiety and according to Healthline, alcohol can make anxiety worse, even when someone is “coming down” from it. There’s a good chance that when you’re on the side of the road, your brain is going a million miles an hour. Will you lose your job? What are the ramifications if this doesn’t go the way you hope?

How anxiety makes it worse, just adding to the worry

That crowded headspace makes it that much harder to focus and take in instructions for sobriety tests. The pressure might be even more so if you already have an OWI record as penalties for multiple OWIs often ramp up.

That lack of focus unfortunately can even add to your anxiety, and you may experience other physical symptoms, like shaking, which can make balancing difficult. If there are loud sounds around you or people watching, it all adds together for a distracting and harrowing experience.

After getting pulled over, there can be a tremendous benefit in reaching out to support networks to find emotional comfort, as well as reaching out to a legal professional who can represent you should your case go to court. After all, the criminal justice system can be difficult to navigate, as well as confusing, and downright intimidating. In trying times, Kammen & Moudy can provide help through their experience and support.