Hypoglycemia and DUI: Can You Be Falsely Convicted?

For many people suffering from hypoglycemia, low blood sugar can cause symptoms that are strikingly similar to the effects of alcohol. Diabetes and many other kinds of diseases can result in hypoglycemia if blood sugar levels are not monitored and controlled. If blood sugar levels do dip below normal, sufferers can experience slow and slurred speech, poor balance, impaired motor control, staggering, drowsiness, flushed face, disorientation and even fainting. Many of those symptoms are equally as characteristic of drunkenness as they are for low blood sugar. Will a police officer be able to distinguish the cause of similar symptoms?

You may think field devices that test blood alcohol level would reveal that you were not drunk, if you became impaired from low blood sugar while driving. However, these portable breath testing devices (PBTs) can be fooled by the symptoms of hypoglycemia as well. Diabetics and other sufferers of hypoglycemia can experience ketoacidosis, a state that increases the amounts of acetones in the breath. Since PBTs pick on any compound in the methyl group, including acetones, and not just the ethanol of drinking alcohol, this state can cause higher readings on PBTs. It causes the PBT to reflect more than just the alcohol that might have been consumed by the person being tested.

Hypoglycemia can produce the same visual symptoms as drunkenness and can’t be distinguished by field testing; some of the flaws of DUI symptoms are exposed in just this one circumstance.

Contact us at Petersen Johnson, and we’ll find the flaws. We’re on your side.

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