In Kentucky, people can be charged and convicted of driving while impaired or intoxicated when they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher. They can also be convicted if they were using drugs or were impaired because of other substances.
Some people find that they are accused of DWIs when they should not be, though. For example, those with diabetes may have all the symptoms of being drunk when they’re really dealing with a medical emergency.
Hypoglycemia: A risk to drivers and those around them
There are two times when those with diabetes may be mistakenly assumed as intoxicated. The first is if their blood sugars are too low. When hypoglycemia occurs, their bodies don’t have enough glucose to run normally. They may have seizures or slur their words, because their brains aren’t getting enough oxygen or nutrients. Left untreated, they may pass out or, in severe cases, die.
Unfortunately, hypoglycemia can also make someone combative or change their personality, which may lead to an officer believing that they’re impaired.
Hyperglycemia: Potentially life-threatening in an emergency situation
The second time when a person with diabetes may be mistaken as intoxicated is if their blood sugars are too high. High sugar levels may lead to fruity, alcohol-smelling breath, particularly if the person is going into ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition, but it may initially appear as if the person is drunk, confused and combative.
What can people with diabetes do to protect themselves during emergencies?
It is helpful to wear a medical alert bracelet or to carry a card in your wallet that states that you have diabetes. If possible, tell the officer that you have the condition and are having symptoms of high or low blood sugars.
It’s important for those with diabetes to get help quickly when these issues arise. If the high or low sugar level goes untreated, their condition may worsen. The right emergency information being available to an officer can help them know to call for help as well as reduce the likelihood of a DWI accusation against the person struggling with their health.