Imagine driving to the supermarket for your weekly shopping excursion. Everything was fine one minute, and the next, a Peoria police officer is helping you out of your car after you hit a utility pole.
You can barely walk, you are slurring your speech, and you cannot maintain your focus. The officer interprets all these symptoms as those of a drunk driver. You are now facing a driving under the influence (DUI) charge but you have not had a drop of alcohol or taken any other substance that could cause impairment. You were not under the influence of anything, you simply had low blood glucose levels.
Studies have shown that the symptoms of hypoglycemia are very similar to those of a person that has been drinking. These similarities have caused many police officers to issue false DUI charges. For example, an individual suffering from hypoglycemia typically displays dizziness, confusion, slurred speaking and blurred vision. These are the same signs that police officers receive training to look for when they suspect and individual of drunk driving. Furthermore, if you have low blood glucose to such an extreme, it is unlikely you would pass a field sobriety test.
A breathalyzer may give a false positive
But what about a breathalyzer? Do not count on it. Most breathalyzers are designed to detect the presence of any compound from the methyl group. This means that any number of chemicals can produce a positive reading for alcohol, even if no alcohol is present. This is a problem for people suffering from hypoglycemia because, during an episode, high levels of acetone may be present on the breath. Since acetone is in the methyl group, a breathalyzer will register a false positive that you have been drinking and driving.
You do not have to be diabetic to have hypoglycemia
Prior studies have shown that even people that are not diabetic can have the symptoms of hypoglycemia. For example, if an individual has been fasting for 24 hours or been adhering to a low-carbohydrate diet, glucose production can be too low and induce the symptoms. This means that if the person imbibes even a little bit of alcohol, glucose levels can drop further and lead to a false DUI situation.
More training for law enforcement
Because so many people have been convicted of DUIs due to low blood glucose levels, law enforcement should receive more training regarding the condition. Innocent people should not have a criminal record because the officer issued a DUI based on false positives from sobriety field tests.
If you are facing a DUI charge that you received while suffering from hypoglycemia, it is important to remember that you have the right to defend yourself in court. Your attorney will be able to help you fight the charges.