Diabetes is a serious medical condition that affects millions of United States residents. In a 2017 press release, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 100 million Americans live with diabetes or prediabetes. Those with diabetes suffer the chronic fluctuation of glucose (sugar) levels due to their body’s inability to produce or respond to insulin—a hormone that uses glucose as energy for the body. Due to this impairment, diabetes causes an abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and causes spikes in glucose levels.
People with diabetes often experience sudden changes in their blood sugar levels, affecting their behavior behind the wheel. Those with diabetes in Florida may find themselves unfairly targeted for DUI. Unfortunately, the chemical changes that occur in a person’s breath due to diabetes can lead to a false high positive on a DUI breath test, which can lead to a DUI arrest. If you believe that your diabetes may have influenced your DUI charge in Orlando, be sure to explore diabetes as a possible defense with your DUI defense lawyer at the Umansky Law Firm.
Insulin helps regulate the human body’s energy levels by measuring glucose in your blood. It takes the glucose from your bloodstream and moves it throughout your cells in the body. These cells use the sugar as energy and store the excess in your muscles, fat tissue, and liver. However, people with diabetes cannot produce or respond to the hormone and risk dangerous rises and falls of blood sugar levels.
The state of low blood sugar that people living with diabetes often experience is called hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia causes a person to show various symptoms, many of which might resemble symptoms of intoxication, which can spark an officer’s suspicion.
Additionally, diabetics may undergo ketosis, a metabolic state in which the body produces elevated levels of ketones. Ketones are waste substances the liver produces when the body uses fat stores for energy. Occasionally, ketones are excreted in a person’s breath, triggering a positive reading on a breath test.
Individuals with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can both experience hypoglycemia when they take too much insulin, skip a meal, or exercise too hard. When those with diabetes experience hypoglycemia, they are at risk of showing symptoms that may look like an intoxicated driver and producing a false positive DUI breathalyzer test.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia may include but are not limited to:
Experiencing hypoglycemia behind the wheel can be concerning, but it is not indicative of intoxication. A nearby cop observing a driver having a hypoglycemic episode may jump to the conclusion that the driver is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. As a result, the diabetic driver may be subject to a DUI investigation.
In this scenario, the driver’s behavior does not only resemble that of an intoxicated driver, but their diabetes may also elevate the level of isopropyl alcohol in their breath. Isopropyl alcohol is different from the ethyl alcohol that breath test devices detect when determining a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level. However, the breath tests devices that law enforcement officers use do not differentiate between isopropyl and ethyl alcohol, meaning that the diabetic DUI suspect can achieve a BAC above 0.08% without being intoxicated.
It is not illegal to go out, have a drink with dinner, and drive home afterward. Those who live with diabetes should not live with the fear that they will be arrested for DUI while drinking responsibly. Still, a DUI arrest because of diabetes can occur. If you face charges for DUI and believe your diabetes impacted the decision, discuss your case with a knowledgeable DUI lawyer. Not only will they be able to guide you through the legal process, but they also have resources to prove that your diabetes impacted your blood alcohol content test.
Below are a few examples of how a dependable DUI attorney can assist with your case:
Even those who do not have diabetes may also experience a drop in their blood glucose levels, leading to a false positive DUI test. Whether you have diabetes or simply experienced a drop in blood glucose levels, you are urged to seek legal counsel right away from an attorney who understands the effects of hypoglycemia in a DUI case.
The Umansky Law Firm is a criminal defense firm with over 100 years of combined experience defending people who face DUI charges in Orlando and Central Florida. Our lawyers thoroughly investigate each case to construct solid arguments protecting clients and achieving the best possible case results. Our goal is to make sure you have legal representation you can trust. We prioritize offering clients the knowledge and tools they need to feel confident in their defense. At the Umansky Law Firm, we care about those without our community and hope to help our clients have a fair and just case.
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