Michael A. Ferraro, Esq., P.C.
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Yes, diabetes can mimic intoxication

On Behalf of | Jan 22, 2021 | DWI defense |

If you have diabetes and have been accused of driving while under the influence, you may know that you weren’t intoxicated at all. Instead, what you may have had was a high level of acetone in your blood.

Unfortunately, Breathalyzer machines can’t identify the difference between acetone and ethyl alcohol, so it’s very easy for a police officer to believe that you’re intoxicated despite the fact that you may have been having a medical emergency. High blood sugars, especially those leading to ketoacidosis, are likely to result in a high BAC reading, which is misleading, to say the least.

Diabetes can be mistaken for intoxication

The biggest issue with the above circumstances is that your more serious diabetic emergency could go undiagnosed for longer than it should. Since the symptoms of ketoacidosis, and potentially of hypoglycemia, may mimic intoxication, it’s the reality that an officer could take you through the motions of breath testing and the field sobriety tests without calling for medical care. 

That’s why all diabetics should make a habit of wearing a medical alert bracelet, having a medical alert card with their license or letting the officer know that they are diabetic when they are feeling unwell. In those circumstances, the truth is that the driver may be impaired, but they also need to receive medical support as soon as possible. Both ketoacidosis and hypoglycemia have the potential to be life-threatening or deadly. 

If your medical condition led to charges, seek help

If you are now facing charges for a DWI related to your diabetes (whether it was undiagnosed or already known at the time of the traffic stop), remember that you have an opportunity to defend yourself. Your medical condition may have caused the issues you dealt with, so it’s important to clear that up with the court.