Hypoglycemia or alcohol impairment?

Low blood sugar can cause a number of serious side effects, even when a person does not have diabetes. However, as a diabetic in Phoenix, you may be aware that you are much more likely to suffer such an attack, known as hypoglycemia. Although this condition may cause impairment similar to that of alcohol, Diabetes Health explains that many law enforcement officers are not aware of the parallels and may disregard a driver’s claim that the symptoms are not alcohol related.

Taking a breath test is one of the steps in determining whether you were driving under the influence of alcohol. However, this chemical test is not likely to provide proof of innocence during a hypoglycemic episode. Acetones will probably be present on your breath because of ketoacidosis, which is a typical result of low blood sugar. Breath test devices interpret this chemical as an alcohol because it has a similar molecular structure to ethyl alcohol. Unless an officer is educated about the effects of hypoglycemia, you may find yourself facing a drunk driving charge.

Prior to the breath test, officers usually look for certain indicators that you are impaired in order to determine whether there is probable cause for a field sobriety test. These signs, which are mimicked by a blood sugar low, include the following:

  •          Clumsiness
  •          Slurred speech
  •          Blurry vision
  •          Dizziness
  •          Disorientation

These same problems may lead to more “evidence” of alcohol-related impairment when you attempt to pass the field sobriety tests. Although this overview of the commonalities between alcohol impairment and low blood sugar is provided for your education, it should not be interpreted as legal advice.