Symptoms from diabetes and alcoholic inebriation are similar

Symptoms from diabetes and alcoholic inebriation are similar

It is not uncommon for Maryland residents to be arrested and accused of
drunk driving when they have not had a drop of alcohol. This is because
various medical conditions — like diabetes in particular —
can actually cause someone to appear dunk, when in fact they are not.
It is important that police officers learn to recognize the difference
between symptoms of diabetes and symptoms of inebriation so they do not
arrest people inappropriately.

In cases of diabetes, where people have blood glucose levels that are either
too low (hypoglycemia) or too high (hyperglycemia), patients will suffer
from a deteriorated mental status, which could mimic inebriation. In these
situations, it is vital that the diabetic patient get treated as soon
as possible.

If hypoglycemia is the problem, the heart and brain will be affected. The
body will eventually enter into insulin shock. The skin will be diaphoretic
and cool. The heart beat will increase and patients will become confused,
and may even become noncooperative and combative. The patient will eventually
lose consciousness.

In cases of hyperglycemia, the insulin hormone will flood the bloodstream
and offset the balance of glucose and insulin in the body. Glucose levels
will rise in response to the increase in insulin, which triggers a hunger
reflex in the patient. In these cases the patient will also experience
confusion and the brain will start malfunctioning, until the patient loses

Because symptoms of diabetes and other conditions can be similar to alcohol
inebriation, people are often wrongly accused of drunk driving due to
the symptoms of their medical conditions. When
defending against a charge of inebriated driving in these cases, it is important to show evidence of the medical condition
in the patient during court proceedings.

Source:, “Drunk versus diabetes: How can you tell?,” Arthur Hsieh, accessed Oct. 14, 2015