Police officers around the country are trained to spot drunk drivers on the road. They depend on telltale signs the driver displays, such as erratic driving patterns, swerving, and delayed reaction time to pull over a driver suspected of drunk driving. Police officers especially rely on these indicators in the spring and summer months, when the days are warmer and longer. During this time of year, more people drink and socialize outside together.
Unfortunately, not everyone that displays these driving patterns is actually drunk. Approximately one out of seven drivers on the road is a diabetic. Most diabetics suffer from hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include slurred speech, delayed reaction time, and impaired motor control. To a police officer, a diabetic without his or her medicine will look just like someone who is intoxicated. To make matters worse, diabetics undergoing hypoglycemia will almost certainly fail a field sobriety test as well.
Law enforcement officers are trained to use their discretion when administering a field sobriety test. It is ultimately up to the officer to determine if a driver is unfit to operate a motor vehicle. The motorist can submit to a breathalyzer test, but even they are not completely accurate. The breathalyzer is programmed to detect chemical compounds similar to alcohol. One of these compounds is acetone, which happens also be a byproduct produced from hypoglycemia. It is completely within the realm of possibilities that a diabetic driver who has not consumed alcohol can fail a breathalyzer test. Furthermore, perfectly healthy individuals without diabetes can also fall victim to a false reading. Fasting glycemia, which is present in low carb dieters and people who have not eaten for 24 hours, can also display symptoms similar to alcohol intoxication. The sad reality is there are a number of diabetics whose hypoglycemic symptoms get mistaken for drunk driving.
We still don’t have a decisive way to determine exactly who is under the influence of alcohol, and how much that person has actually drunk. False positives are a reality, which is why Washington D.C. suspended the use of breathalyzers for 20 months back in 2011. With that said, law enforcement officers have a duty to keep drunk drivers off the road. The reality is drunk drivers make up approximately 65% of traffic fatalities in 2013. Furthermore, because many states have laws restricting impaired driving, diabetics suffering from hypoglycemia are also required to stop driving until their symptoms subside.
What to do
The chances of you receiving a false positive reading aren’t certain, but they are possible. Because of this, DWI lawyers around the country are advising motorists to submit to a blood test. Currently, a blood test is the only accurate way to measure alcohol in your system. If you do find yourself wrongfully arrested for a DWI, contact an attorney immediately. With an experienced attorney available to review your case and look at your medical history, you will be able to build a strong DWI defense and could get the case thrown out.