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Drunk driving or diabetic attack?

Police on the streets of New City, New York, are always on the lookout for those they believe are committing a crime, and one of the most dangerous crimes one could commit while behind the wheel of a car is drunk driving. However, when it comes to pulling over an allegedly drunk driver, things may not always be what they seem. For example, some of the symptoms of diabetes could be very similar to those exhibited by a drunk driver.

Many drivers in New York and across the nation have diabetes -- as many as 15 to 20 percent, according to some sources. Sometimes, a diabetic's blood sugar level drops dramatically. This could cause the diabetic to exhibit certain symptoms, such as being confused, uncoordinated, weak, slurring when they talk, having blurred vision and feeling dizzy. These symptoms may lead a police officer to assume the driver is drunk when the driver actually is not.

Furthermore, a breath test may not clear the diabetic's name. Breath test machines utilize infrared beams to detect "methyl group" molecular compounds. However, alcohol isn't the only methyl group compound there is. Another methyl group compound is acetone, which is produced when a diabetic is suffering from ketoacidosis. Therefore, even a breath test could falsely conclude that a person was drinking, rather than suffering from a hypoglycemic episode.

It is important for law enforcement to be educated on diabetes and its effect on one's body. One should not confuse being hypoglycemic with being drunk. This could lead to a wrongful arrest and a drunk driving conviction that should have never taken place.

Source: DiabetesHealth, "DUI or Diabetes?," Lawrence Taylor, Accessed May 25, 2015

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