DUI or Diabetes?

If you were recently arrested for drunk driving, and you are diabetic, were you actually 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 by law enforcement in the past.

Diabetes usually starts in people before their 20th birthday, but Type 2 can occur at any age. If an officer pulls over a diabetic, they could mistake the diabetic’s symptoms for alcohol intoxication. Just a few of a diabetic’s symptoms, which virtually mirror intoxication, include:

· Fatigue

· Confusion

· Dizziness

· Slurred speech

· Blurred Vision

· Nausea and vomiting

· Loss of coordination

Coincidentally, these signs are exactly what an officer is looking for in a driver who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 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.

If a diabetic is experiencing slurred speech, dizziness, and loss of coordination, not only can they look and act drunk, but they can easily flunk the field sobriety tests, which are divided attention tests conducted roadside.

When Breathalyzers Don't Defend Diabetics

Can the breathalyzer defend you? 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 absorb chemical compounds in the breath, including ethyl alcohol, which contains the “methyl group” in its molecular structure. Thus, the more 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, such as Attorney Landry who is educated about the symptoms of diabetes and breath readings that are associated with your medical condition.

Related: What You Need to Know About BAC

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