Odd behavior behind the wheel not always a DUI

by • March 1, 2007 • UncategorizedComments Off on Odd behavior behind the wheel not always a DUI1723

The Gist 

• More diabetics in the U.S. means more incidents, medical complications and cases.

By Marcia Elliott, RN, CDE, CLNC
© The Medical-Legal News 2007

 Diabetics who experience hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) may mimic the driving patterns of someone who is under the influence of alcohol. Driving with a low blood sugar can decrease one’s cognitive ability and response time.

It has been noted that the only sign of low blood sugar with some people who have hypoglycemia unawareness may be that they are slow to put their foot on the brake, may accelerate and decelerate, or sway back and forth. Also, they may slow down at green lights or be slow to take off at a green light. Their response time and thought process are slowed down.

Diabetics do not always experience the typical signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia such as sweating, shaking and feeling faint. Therefore, it is difficult to recognize when the blood sugar is low. Some people with diabetes may experience autonomic neuropathies such as impaired insulin counterregulation or hypoglycemic unawareness.

Exploring all possible variables that could have increased the risk for hypoglycemia at the time of an accident could prove beneficial in the outcome of a DUI case.

It is expected that anyone with diabetes would follow the Clinical Practice Recommendations which include scheduled follow-ups with his or her physician, an HgbA1c blood test every three to six months and home glucose monitoring.

As the U.S. population ages and gains weight, the number of people with type 2 diabetes can be expected to increase. •

 Marcia Elliot RN, CDE, CLNC is a legal nurse consultant based in Spencerville, Ohio ;melliot@wcoil.com

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