Diabetes can lead to an unfair charge of DUI in two ways. First, diabetes can affect an officer’s impression of a person’s sobriety. Low blood sugar can result in symptoms that an officer might mistake for signs of intoxication. Some of these symptoms include changes in speech and focus, and a “fruity” odor on the breath. “Ketoacidosis,” a condition in which the body lacks insulin and begins converting fat instead of sugar into energy, can also cause such symptoms. Not only does this condition create observable symptoms that an officer might mistake as indications of alcohol use, it also creates chemicals in the body that a breath test device might mistake for alcohol.
Breath test machines have some safeguards designed to prevent false positives, but the compounds created by ketoacidosis may not be identifiable to a breath test machine as a non-alcoholic substance. As a result, a diabetic could be both arrested and convicted of DUI based on effects of the disease rather than on actual alcohol consumption. If you are a diabetic and you believe the disease may have skewed your interaction with law enforcement officers and/or your breath test results, you should connect with our defense attorneys immediately.