Diabetes May Cause False Drunk Driving Charges [infographic]

While breathalyzers are considered to be reliable tests for blood alcohol levels, they may return false positive results for people who have diabetes. Diabetics may be falsely charged with drunk driving charges because breathalyzers mistake acetone on their breath with ethylene glycol. Police officers may also believe that drivers who are showing the symptoms of low blood sugar are intoxicated when they are actually having medical emergencies. A Minneapolis DWI attorney recommends that diabetic drivers who have not been drinking tell the officers who pull them over for DWI that they have diabetes and request blood tests instead of breathalyzers.

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Why Breathalyzers Give False Positives for People With Diabetes

Diabetes is a common condition, affecting between 15 to 20 percent of people. The incidence of the disease has increased, meaning that there are now more people on the roads who have it. When drivers with diabetes suffer from low blood sugar, they experience ketoacidosis. This state involves the production of acetones that are measurable in the breath. Many breathalyzers rely on infrared lights to give their results, and the lights look for the presence of methyl groups, which are present in ethyl alcohol. Acetone also contains methyl groups and consequently may lead to breathalyzer results that indicate that diabetic drivers are drunk even when they haven’t drunk any alcohol at all.

Other Symptoms

When diabetics suffer from hypoglycemia, they may initially have symptoms that are similar to those demonstrated by intoxicated people. When blood glucose levels drop, people may have confusion, slurred speech, poor coordination, dizziness and blurred vision. This may lead them to weave or swerve on the road and officers to pull them over. When the officers then ask the drivers to perform the standardized sobriety tests, the people often fail because of their loss of coordination. In an article that was published in 2003 in the journal Medical and Toxicological Information Review, a doctor stated that low blood glucose levels are often confused with drunk driving in the nation and may be involved in accidents in addition to DWIs. In addition to diabetes, others may also suffer from hypoglycemia sometimes, including people who are on low-carbohydrate diets or who have been fasting.

People who have the symptoms of hypoglycemia should pull over as soon as they start feeling bad. A Minneapolis DWI attorney believes that law enforcement agencies should be educated about diabetes and how it might be confused with drunk driving.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Knowing how to choose a criminal defense lawyer in Minneapolis, MN, can help you hire a lawyer who will prepare an effective defense strategy and fight for the best result from your case. One of the crucial tips when selecting a criminal defense lawyer is to vet those with relevant experience in cases like yours. You can only do this when you thoroughly understand the charges you are facing.
People anticipating an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, might ask, “What is the role of a defense attorney during an arrest?” A skilled criminal defense attorney can explain your options, ensure the police follow the rules, and protect your rights. The attorney will build a solid defense, talk to the prosecutor, and fight for your best interests.
Knowing when to hire a criminal lawyer for your case in Minnesota can help protect your constitutional rights and turn the odds in your favor. You should retain a criminal lawyer immediately after learning you are under investigation, get arrested, or are charged with a crime. Seasoned criminal lawyers understand the criminal justice system, can build a winning defense strategy, and aggressively push for a positive outcome of your case.