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Diabetes symptoms may look like drunk driving

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2023 | DUI |

Type 1 diabetes is a condition that develops when your body can no longer regulate your glucose levels. When diabetic patients experience low blood sugar, their symptoms can mimic drunkenness.

If you have diabetes or if you suspect you could be diabetic and feel wrongfully accused of driving under the influence, it may be due to your condition.

Impaired driving behavior due to low blood sugar

When blood sugar levels drop to dangerous levels, you become hypoglycemic. Hypoglycemia presents with similar symptoms to impaired persons. For example, low blood sugar can result in:

  • Confusion and lack of mental clarity
  • Slurred speech that resembles drunkenness
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks
  • Impaired motor skills and uncoordinated movements

When you experience any of these symptoms, it can make operating a motor vehicle more challenging.

Failed field sobriety tests due to diabetes

Hypoglycemia can cause you to feel unsteady and uncoordinated. When driving behind you, the police may notice erratic swerving or an inability to remain in the correct lane. If the officer requests you leave your vehicle, you may experience vertigo and lose your balance. Sobriety tests like standing on one leg or walking in a straight line become impossible and you might fail.

Law enforcement officers may lack the training to identify impairments caused by diabetes. It can be difficult for them to distinguish between a DUI and a medical emergency. If you are unaware of your condition, you might have trouble communicating your situation to the police.

About 37 million people have diabetes, and about eight out of 10 adults do not realize it. Given the various symptoms associated with low blood sugar, it is not unheard of to face DUI accusations when you have a medical emergency instead.