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What if I am a Diabetic?

I recently concluded a case for a lady who blew a .19, she was a diabetic and was stopped in her car while racing home, above the speed limit and blowing through lights in order to get to her meter to test her sugar levels. She had insulin injections with her but no meter. When arrested she was noted to have slurred speech, nystagmus, and was unsteady on her feet.

Now, how does a depressed blood sugar level present itself? Known as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) a person will have slurred speech, poor balance, impaired motor control, staggering, drowsiness, flushed face and will possibly be disoriented. All of the normal things the cops look for. They see it in a person suffering from this condition and then make an arrest for DUI. In my case, the lady told the officer why she was racing home and what she needed but naturally her claims fell on deaf ears.

So off to the station house we go for a breath test which will surely exonerate our young client right? Wrong! As previously discussed the infra red device in the intox is designed to pick up the molecular structure of ethanol alcohol. Unfortunately for this driver, a similar molecular structure exists in a wide variety of breath constituents known as the “methyl group” and will be picked up and identified by the magic box on the cops desk as ethanol alcohol and used against the driver.

In this case, the diabetic has acetone on her breath. Acetone on the breath is a well documented by-product of hypoglycemia. The machine will register the acetone in the breath and yield a BAC reading when the driver may have consumed no alcohol or it will magnify the BAC where she has consumed alcohol.

The result for this particular driver was that her BAC number was thrown out at the administrative hearing and she received an unsupervised probation in Court.