It’s an interesting fact that some medical conditions may make you appear to be intoxicated. As surprising as that can be, certain conditions, like seizure disorders, diabetes or auto-brewery syndrome, could cause you to appear intoxicated even when you haven’t been drinking.
These conditions cause confusion in a few ways that may lead to a DUI arrest when one shouldn’t happen. In the case of neurological issues from seizures, for example, a person may appear incoherent or unbalanced. They may slur their speech or be confused. These are also signs of impairment, so an officer may arrest them thinking that they are intoxicated.
With diabetes, the breath may smell of acetone or a Breathalyzer may read high even though the person hasn’t been drinking. This is likely due to ketoacidosis. Diabetes may make a person confused, belligerent or unable to speak clearly. With the added smell of fruity alcohol on their breath, it’s possible to arrest them rather than to get them medical attention.
Finally, with auto-brewery syndrome, the body has high levels of yeast in the intestines. These ferment any carbohydrates that a person eats into ethanol. This leads to feelings of impairment that vary based on how many carbs have been taken into the body.
What should you do if you have a medical condition that may mimic intoxication?
If you are living with a medical condition that could mimic intoxication, the best thing to do would be to wear a medical alert bracelet or to have other information on-hand to provide to an officer if you’re stopped. A medical emergency requires attention, and delaying attention by believing that you’re impaired could lead to devastating consequences.
If you begin to feel unwell when you drive, pull over and call 911 to get help. If you are stopped and are having symptoms that lead to an arrest, you should discuss your options with your attorney. You may be able to show that you’re living with a medical condition and that you were mistakenly arrested for a DWI when you were really struggling with the side effects of a medical emergency.