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Why Diabetics Are Vulnerable to DUI Charges

Unfortunately, there is a frequent correlation between diabetes and DUI charges. According to Diabetes Health, diabetics are at risk of getting unfairly arrested for DUI and triggering inaccurate results on breathalyzer tests.

Diabetes is a common disease in the United States. 15 to 20 percent of all drivers on the road are diabetics.

How Can Diabetes Lead to Unfair DUI Charges?

People with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes experience “hypoglycemia” when their blood sugar is too low. This often the result of taking too much insulin, skipping a meal, or exercising too often.

So what does hypoglycemia have to do with DUI? The symptoms of this medical condition are quite similar to having had too much to drink or taken drugs. Therefore it is not uncommon for individuals with diabetes suffering from hypoglycemia to get pulled over while driving—and for law enforcement officials to then suspect them of drunk or drugged driving.

The following are common symptoms of hypoglycemia:

  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Shakiness
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Clumsiness
  • Jerky movements
  • Confusion

On the other hand, ketosis and ketones are also associated with diabetes. Ketones are the waste acids found in the liver as a byproduct from the process of breaking down fat. It is known that bodies of diabetics either do not produce insulin, do not produce enough of it, or do not use insulin properly. So without insulin, the body cannot make use of glucose as fuel—which means fat is broken down by the liver instead.

Ketones are excreted in both the breath and urine. In many diabetics, however, the liver produces too many ketones for the body to fully eradicate. Thus resulting in a buildup of ketones that can result in ketoacidosis (DKA).

DKA symptoms typically resemble those of alcohol impairment. A police officer who doesn’t understand diabetes could easily arrest an individual suffering from DKA for DUI.

Common DKA symptoms include:

  • A flushed face
  • Decreased coordination
  • Confusion
  • Frequent urination
  • Sluggishness
  • Dry mouth or excessive thirst
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • “Fruity” smelling breath that can be misconstrued as signs of alcohol consumption

Furthermore, ketosis can fool a DUI breathalyzer test into reporting a falsely high BAC level. Ketones resemble isopropyl alcohol, which is different from ethyl alcohol that is commonly found in alcoholic drinks. So when a diabetic’s body is producing excess ketones, they may test positive on a DUI breath test.

What You Need to Do If You are Diabetic & Charged with a DUI

At The Law Offices of Robert F. Sommers, we understand the impact of diabetes on a DUI case. Our Ventura DUI attorney is use your medical condition as a powerful legal defense for fighting DUI charges and getting your case dismissed entirely.

If you have been recently arrested for a DUI in Ventura County, contact us and request a free initial consultation today.