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Hypoglycemic? You may be at risk for false positive BAC results

Posted on November 7, 2017

If a police officer were to pull you over on a Colorado roadway, let’s say because he or she claims your car was veering too close to the yellow line in the center of the highway, you may be in for a very long night. Perhaps you were on your way home from a social evening with friends. You knew you’d be driving, so you abstained from alcohol. You might think of the irony of that situation when the officer asks you to step out of your car.

At first, you might not be overly concerned because you know the strongest thing you had to drink was some water with a sprig of mint. Your blood pressure might rise a bit, however, if the officer requests that you hold your arms out to your sides at shoulder length and walk a straight line with one heel in front of the toes on the other foot. When the officer asks you to breathe into an electronic device, you know things might get a lot worse before they get better.

Your current health condition may affect BAC test results

If you are diabetic or have some other condition that causes hypoglycemia (even anxiety or extreme stress, as you may experience in such circumstances), rectifying your situation may not be so easy. While it’s logical to assume that if you simply explain to the officer you consumed no alcohol, everything will be fine, it has happened in the past where people’s Breathalyzer results registered BAC as high as .06 due to hypoglycemic conditions.

You may be one of nearly 24 million people in the nation who have diabetes. You may also be one of nearly 6 million people who are not aware that they are diabetics. Either way, low levels of glucose in your bloodstream may cause symptoms that mimic drunkenness and may also cause Breathalyzer tests to register false positive results.

How does hypoglycemia affect BAC counts?

If you are in even a mildly hypoglycemic state (which diabetics often are) you may have increased levels of acetone in your breath. Breathalyzer tests work by detecting the presence of alcohol in the microscopic particles of your breath when you blow air into the device. The problem is that acetone often registers as alcohol on a breath test.

Hypoglycemia may cause you to exhibit symptoms that include shakiness, clumsiness or erratic movements. It can also make you very dizzy or confused. A police officer who already suspects you of drunk driving if your tires were on the yellow line may consider this behavior probable cause to charge you with a crime.

What can you do about it?

One of the first things you can do if you realize your traffic stop is turning into a far more serious matter, is invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent until legal representation is present. An experienced criminal defense attorney understands the process needed to challenge BAC evidence or any other portion of your arrest.

Avoiding conviction might be challenging, but it’s often possible, especially if you know you did not drink any alcohol before getting behind the wheel.