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Can Diabetes Lead to a DUI?

Suppose you were recently arrested for drunk driving. If you have diabetes, our question is, were you under the influence of alcohol or could you have been experiencing a diabetic low? What some officers don’t know is that many of the symptoms of diabetes are strikingly similar to alcohol intoxication, and they have led to false conclusions to law enforcement in the past.

Type 2, adult onset diabetes, can surface at any point in adulthood, which means that any diabetic can run into trouble if they experience a diabetic low while behind the wheel. That being said, let’s take a look at the diabetes-DUI connection.

If an officer pulls over a diabetic, they could mistake the diabetic’s symptoms for alcohol intoxication because, “Severe hypoglycemia has the potential to cause accidents, injuries, coma, and death,” according to the American Diabetes Association. Some of the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia reported by the ADA include: confusion, dizziness, sleepiness, blurred vision, stubbornness, seizures, fatigue, and lack of coordination.

Coincidentally, these signs are exactly what an officer is looking for in an intoxicated driver. Once the officer observes one or more of the above signs, what quickly follows is a series of field sobriety tests – which the diabetic could easily fail, especially if their diabetes is uncontrolled or they’re experiencing hypoglycemia.

Can a Breathalyzer Clear Me?

Not necessarily. First, we can’t ignore the fact that these machines are not foolproof and they have an inherent level of inaccuracy. Rather than measuring the alcohol content in your blood, these machines use infrared beams of light to absorb the chemical compound in your breath, and this includes ethyl alcohol, which contains the “methyl group” in its molecular structure. Thus, the more that is absorbed by the device, the higher the blood-alcohol reading.

What does this mean to the diabetic? There are thousands of compounds in the methyl group that can register as alcohol, one of which is acetone. If a person is hypoglycemic, it can lead to ketoacidosis – a byproduct of acetones in the breath. In other words, if you’re a diabetic, it is possible for a breathalyzer to read significant levels of alcohol in your breath, even if you have not consumed any alcohol at all.

If you have diabetes and you have been falsely accused of driving under the influence, you need an Orange County DUI lawyer who is educated about the symptoms of diabetes and breath readings that are associated with your medical condition.

Call the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. to work with such an attorney!