Those with diabetes could produce a false positive blood alcohol content (BAC) if they are given a breathalyzer test while experiencing low blood sugar. The symptoms of low blood sugar levels are very similar to being under the influence of alcohol. In many instances, police officers will not take the time to investigate if the individual has low blood glucose or if he or she is actually intoxicated.
There are millions of individuals in the United States with diabetes, and it is estimated that up to 20 percent of drivers in the US have diabetes. When an individual with diabetes experiences symptoms that include blurred vision, slurred speech, lethargy, poor coordination, and disorientation, he is experiencing the early stages of a diabetic attack due to low blood glucose. Police officers are trained to look for these symptoms when they suspect an individual is driving under the influence of alcohol. Unfortunately, these observations can lead to false assumptions by the police official and can be mistaken for alcohol intoxication.
Will a Breathalyzer Tests Clear a Person with Diabetes?
No. Louisiana relies on the Intoxilyzer 5000 breathalyzer machine to produce tests that are admissible as evidence in court. This machine detects infrared light beams to measure blood alcohol content. The beams of light absorb chemical compounds in the breath, which could produce a false reading. There are thousands of chemicals in the methyl group, and the machine is programmed to register chemicals in the methyl group as alcohol. An individual with diabetes can experience hypoglycemia that will produce acetones in the breath, which the machine will recognize as alcohol. Such machines do not directly measure the alcohol content in the blood. This would only be accomplished through a blood test.
In an issue of Medical and Toxicological Information Review, John Arnold, MD, explained that hypoglycemia is commonly seen in instances where driver error is present, and the condition is also seen in false DUI charges. According to Dr. Arnold’s research, diabetics with hypoglycemic symptoms will closely resemble symptoms of an intoxicated driver.
It is important to remember that individuals without diabetes can show hypoglycemic symptoms that mimic intoxication after they have consumed small amounts of alcohol. After a small amount of alcohol consumption, a healthy individual can experience low blood sugar that produces symptoms that are similar to intoxication. There are many reasons a healthy individual can experience low blood sugar, which can affect the central nervous system and produce false symptoms of intoxication.
There have been many diabetics who have faced DUI charges due to their medical condition. If you face DUI/ DWI charges as a person with diabetes, it’s important to seek experienced counsel.
When you face DWI/ DUI charges in Louisiana, you need strong legal representation. Attorney Eric G. Johnson thoroughly investigates each case to ensure you get the best results possible. He will do all he can to have your charges dismissed or reduced. For over 25 years, Eric Johnson has dedicated his legal career to criminal defense, fighting DUI and DWI charges throughout the state. Call The John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm at 318-479-0562 or contact us online for a free consultation.