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Did the officer mistake hypoglycemia for intoxication?

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 23.6 million people across the country suffer from diabetes. A few million of them don’t even know they do. This puts them at risk for several adverse health events, but it also puts them at risk for being accused of intoxication by a police officer.

One of the reasons why courts tend not to allow the results of roadside preliminary breath tests into evidence in DUI cases is because they are notoriously unreliable. For instance, if your blood sugar drops to dangerous levels because you have diabetes or suffer from hypoglycemia, you could appear drunk and your breath test results could indicate you are drunk.

What? Hypoglycemia can really imitate drunkenness?

That’s right. The symptoms of hypoglycemia often mimic intoxication as indicated below:

  • Clumsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Shakiness
  • Confusion
  • Jerky movements

Does this sound familiar? It should. Police officers look for the same things when assessing a driver for intoxication. After observing these signs, an officer would probably ask you to submit to a preliminary breath test. Since you didn’t have anything to drink prior to driving, you may have felt the results would exonerate you and you could do about your day. Unfortunately, under these conditions, you could blow a .06.

How is that possible?

Diabetics, people on the Keto diet and those suffering from other medical conditions may have a buildup of acetone in their breath. Even though everyone has some level of acetone on their breath, the high levels of acetone could cause a false positive for intoxication. For this reason, you could end up under arrest all because the roadside breath testing machine used by the officer read acetone as alcohol.

Even if you later prove yourself innocent of DUI, the arrest may stick with you. Police officers often fail to ask drivers whether they have a medical condition that could affect the test. It’s up to you to make it clear to an officer that you suffer from diabetes and may be hypoglycemic. What you need is some sugar, not a breath test.

If you get the right officer, you may have some sugar, sit for a bit and be on your way. If not, you may end up defending yourself against DUI charges. Armed with the right information, you can protect yourself from an unnecessary and problematic arrest. If you are arrested, however, you may want to seek out legal resources here in Silver Spring as soon as possible.

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