Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sleep Apnea May Lead to Car Accidents, Still Not Good DUI Defense

In San Diego, the lawyer of a man being tried for "gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated," claimed that the fatal accident was caused not by alcohol, but by obstructive sleep apnea.

The driver had been diagnosed with sleep apnea the year before. It is unclear whether he was undergoing treatment at the time. However, the driver also admitted to a treating doctor that he had had at least five drinks before getting in his car to drive home. His blood alcohol content was more than double the legal limit when tested 2 1/2 hours after the accident, and was probably much higher at the time of the accident.

Sleep apnea can increase your risk of car accidents. It can, as the lawyer claimed, cause episodes of "micro-sleep" when you may black out for a few seconds at a time and never know that you fell asleep. When driving, these episodes of micro-sleep can lead to deadly accidents. However, it is unlikely that micro-sleep will work as an effective defense for a drunk driver in a fatal accident whose blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.

To avoid an increased risk of car accidents and other dangers of sleep apnea, please call or email a local sleep dentist today to learn more about sleep apnea and its treatment options.

posted by Dr. Candelaria at 1:13 PM