Diabetic condition mistaken for DUI


The symptoms police often associate with being under the influence of alcohol are similar to a diabetic who may be experiencing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).  When a police officer stops a driver and smells alcohol, he will have the driver exit the vehicle.  The officer will then ask a series of questions (e.g., What have you been drinking? Where? How much?)

Next, the officer will have the driver perform a series of balancing tests called Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs).  During the entire contact the officer is looking for slurred speech, staggering, disorientation, blood shot and watery eyes, and smell of alcohol. The last part of the investigation usually consists of the driver blowing into a preliminary alcohol device (PAS).  A diabetic with considerable amounts of acetone emitting from the breath would result in a false high reading on the PAS.

A person with hypoglycemia could show signs of thick or slurred speech, disorientation, weakness, sleepiness, impaired vision, and an unusual breath smell that could be mistaken for a fruity alcoholic drink.   A police could easily mistake these symptoms as someone under the influence of alcohol.

But, doesn’t the PAS test or breath test confirm whether or not the police officer is mistaken?  Not with acetone emitting from a diabetics breath.  Breath devices like the PAS test do not differentiate between the acetone coming from a diabetic experiencing keto-acidosis and a person who has consumed an alcoholic beverage.

Without proper representation, the result can be an innocent person convicted of DUI.

This entry was posted in Chemical Tests, Field Evidence and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *