DUI Charges Unearth Brain Tumor in Suspect

Woman Charged with DUI Actually Had Brain Tumor

DUI Leads to Brain Tumor DiscoveryA Dallas-area woman with four children dropped her kids off at daycare one morning, then passed out and crashed. In too many scenarios, the office would be correct after arresting her on DUI charges – not in this case, the charges led to the discovery of a brain tumor.

“It’s an interesting way to find out about a brain tumor,” said Lynda Halvorson, the mother of now exonerated DUI suspect Julie Cunningham.

According to both Halvorson and police reports, Cunningham dropped her children off at daycare on July 31st, and was on her way home when she passed out behind the wheel, hit a curb, and crashed into a fire hydrant.

“My daughter is not a drinker. She doesn’t take any sort of meds, so that was so out of character that we knew instantly that couldn’t be what it was,” Halvorson said. The worry was confirmed after Cunningham spent a night in jail, but was still acting strange and “drunk” the next day when her brother came to pick her up.

“He and his wife knew instantly that something was still very, very wrong,” Halvorson said. Cunningham’s speech was slurred and she could barely move. She also couldn’t remember anything that had happened.

Police confirmed that Cunningham’s breathalyzer test returned a 0.0, as well. The DUI charges were dropped, and Cunningham was taken to the hospital, where doctors found a lemon-sized tumor in her brain. It was reportedly benign, but there were some “abnormal cells.”

“[Julie] doesn’t remember the accident; she doesn’t remember the police being involved; she doesn’t remember being in jail… which is OK,” Halvorson said. “It’s one piece of trauma she doesn’t need to be thinking about.”

The Frisco police department said that no charges have been filed against Cunningham, although the department is still following procedure and waiting for toxicology results. Meanwhile, Cunningham has undergone an operation to remove the tumor, and should likely be home by the end of the week.

Although the arresting officer could reasonably have made the assumption based on Cunningham’s reported behavior that she might be intoxicated, many other pieces of evidence indicated that she was not drunk. For example, the fact that she remained intoxicated overnight, rather than coming down off a “high” or a “buzz,” suggests that other factors may have been an issue in her case.  While it is likely that Cunningham will not face fees or a court date, it is still startling to think that other drivers could face serious DUI charges, court dates, jail time, and damaged reputations when something else may have been wrong with them.


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