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[IP] DUI and diabetes



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Not that I condone this sort of thing, but I pass this FYI along:
    I work as a court bailiff in Seattle, and I have sat through some =
tedious DUI trials lately, and have reached the conclusion that with a =
decent defense attorney, a person with diabetes would probably not be =
convicted of driving while intoxicated.
    I have always read horror stories about diabetics with low BG being =
pulled over as drunk drivers and being tossed in jail. So I was =
delighted to see that questions #5 and #6 on the statewide DUI =
invesitgation questions are: "Are you a diabetic?" and "Do you take =
insulin?"
    However, I soon realized that these questions are asked for legal =
reasons, and not altruistic medical reasons: a person with diabetes =
might have difficulty performing field sobriety tests if his or her BG =
was low.=20
    On the breathtest, the machine is pretty accurate, but may have =
skewed results if a person has alcohol or objects in his or her mouth. =
So officers must wait at least 1/2 hour for any of these possible =
contaminants to be expired by a person's breath. One way to completely =
foul up the breathalyzer test is if there is any acetone in the breath. =
You guessed it, a severe hyperglycemic reaction, like DKA, can cause a =
diabetic to exhale acetone.
    The upshot is: if a person is low and can't perform the tests, that =
evidence will be cast in doubt. And the prosecution would be foolish to =
go to trial with breathalyzer results from a diabetic. I chatted with a =
reputable DUI defense attorney the other day, and when asked if it would =
be easy to defend a diabetic on the charge, he said yes, and added, "Are =
you kidding? Diabetes and epilepsy are the best medical defenses!"
    So does this leave a diabetic with impunity from such a charge? It's =
not likely. And any diabetic knows he or she is wise to restrict the use =
of alcohol, anyway. I have not witnessed a diabetic "get off" on a =
drunk-driving charge, but I have seen people use diabetes as an excuse =
for other crimes.
     For instance, a person was caught with traces of heroin and =
needles, and she claimed it was her brother's diabetes supplies =
(finding: guilty.) A negligent driving case where the man got into a =
wreck because of a low BG (finding: not committed.) And finally, the =
woman who shoplifted three candy bars because she said she had diabetes =
and was hypoglycemic. On cross-examination, she changed her story--said =
she was hypoglycemic or something--and was found guilty. I am waiting to =
see the person who commits murder claim that diabetes caused temporary =
insanity, though I imagine it could happen.
    So is diabetes a disability? Not if you are charged with a crime.
G
   =20

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<BODY bgColor=3D#ffffff>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>Not that I condone this sort of thing, but I pass =
this FYI=20
along:</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I work as a court bailiff in =
Seattle, and I=20
have sat through some tedious DUI trials lately, and have reached the =
conclusion=20
that with a decent defense attorney, a person with diabetes would =
probably not=20
be convicted of driving while intoxicated.</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I have always read horror stories =
about=20
diabetics with low BG being pulled over as drunk drivers and being =
tossed in=20
jail. So I was delighted to see that questions #5 and #6 on the =
statewide DUI=20
invesitgation questions are: &quot;Are you a diabetic?&quot; and =
&quot;Do you=20
take insulin?&quot;</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; However, I soon realized that =
these=20
questions are asked for legal reasons, and not altruistic medical =
reasons: a=20
person with diabetes might have difficulty performing field sobriety =
tests if=20
his or her BG was low. </FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; On the breathtest, the machine is =
pretty=20
accurate, but may have skewed results if a person has alcohol or objects =
in his=20
or her mouth. So officers must wait at least 1/2 hour for any of these =
possible=20
contaminants to be expired by a person's breath. One way to completely =
foul up=20
the breathalyzer test is if there is any acetone in the breath. You =
guessed it,=20
a severe hyperglycemic reaction, like DKA, can cause a diabetic to =
exhale=20
acetone.</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The upshot is: if a person is low =
and can't=20
perform the tests, that evidence will be cast in doubt. And the =
prosecution=20
would be foolish to go to trial with breathalyzer results from a =
diabetic. I=20
chatted with a reputable DUI defense attorney the other day, and when =
asked if=20
it would be easy to defend a diabetic on the charge, he said yes, and =
added,=20
&quot;Are you kidding? Diabetes and epilepsy are the best medical=20
defenses!&quot;</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; So does this leave a diabetic =
with impunity=20
from such a charge? It's not likely. And any diabetic knows he or she is =
wise to=20
restrict the use of alcohol, anyway. I have not witnessed a diabetic =
&quot;get=20
off&quot; on a drunk-driving charge, but I have seen people use diabetes =
as an=20
excuse for other crimes.</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; For instance, a person was =
caught=20
with traces of heroin and needles, and she claimed it was her brother's =
diabetes=20
supplies (finding: guilty.) A negligent driving case where the man got =
into a=20
wreck because of a low BG (finding: not committed.) And finally, the =
woman who=20
shoplifted three candy bars because she said she had diabetes and was=20
hypoglycemic. On cross-examination, she changed her story--said she was=20
hypoglycemic or something--and was found guilty. I am waiting to see the =
person=20
who commits murder claim that diabetes caused temporary insanity, though =
I=20
imagine it could happen.</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2></FONT><FONT color=3D#000000 =
size=3D2>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; So is=20
diabetes a disability? Not if you are charged with a crime.</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT color=3D#000000 size=3D2></FONT><FONT size=3D2>G</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </FONT></DIV></BODY></HTML>

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