When a diabetic experiences hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar levels, the symptoms are very similar to intoxication. Police officers have been known to mistakenly assume a driver is intoxicated, when in fact they have hypoglycemia. For example, a diabetic experiencing hypoglycemia may have a slow and slurred speech, poor balance, impaired motor abilities and may appear drowsy, flushed and disoriented. Hypoglycemia can even cause the diabetic to stagger, which may be mistaken for intoxication by a police officer. These symptoms are very similar to intoxication and as you may imagine, a person experiencing them will most likely fail the field sobriety tests.
Breath tests can even give inaccurate results when someone is a diabetic. Breath testing equipment is designed to measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is the amount of alcohol present in a person’s bloodstream. A ratio is used to convert the alcohol in the breath to alcohol in the body. The testing device uses infrared beams of light that are absorbed by chemical compounds in the breath.
Ethyl alcohol is what is found in alcoholic beverages and is what the breath testing equipment is looking for. However, a diabetic with hypoglycemia may develop ketoacidosis, which can cause acetone in the mouth and can be smelled on the breath. A diabetic who has developed ketoacidosis will give a high BAC reading because the breath testing device mistakes the acetone for ethyl alcohol.
When a person with diabetes consumes alcohol, it can quickly lead to hypoglycemia. The risk of alcohol causing low glucose is most common for diabetics taking insulin or other antidiabetic agents, as these medications are designed to reduce glucose levels.
Since a diabetic has the potential to perform poorly on field sobriety tests and give off a high BAC reading, even though he or she may not be intoxicated, the chances of being arrested for DUI or DWI are significant. If you are a diabetic and are facing DWI or DUI charges that are unjustified, you need to contact a DUI lawyer or DWI lawyer immediately. An experienced attorney will be able to review your case, including your medical history, to help you build a strong defense. Too many diabetics are wrongfully accused of driving under the influence when in reality, they were just experiencing the symptoms of hypoglycemia.
For more information and to speak with a lawyer today, call 888-DWI-ANSWER or 888-DUI-ANSWER.