New Jersey Diabetics Get New Protection From DUI Charges
In New Jersey, drunk driving is a serious crime that can bring life-altering consequences, even on a first offense. As such, being charged with DUI is one of the most frightening experiences the average person will ever have to encounter.
But, for however stressful a DUI charge might be, it is even more anxiety-inducing when the person being charged knows for a fact that he or she was not intoxicated. This happens to diabetics more than a person might realize.
Individuals with diabetes are prone to experience unpredictable fluctuations in their blood sugar. When their blood sugar drops too low, they can become hypoglycemic. Hypoglycemic individuals can develop symptoms that mirror drunkenness, including drowsiness, confusion, slurred speech and a staggering gait. Interestingly, hypoglycemia can also create an alcohol-like smell on a person’s breath.
If a person experiences hypoglycemic diabetic shock while driving, police may mistakenly arrest them for drunk driving. Even worse, that arrest may delay the person’s ability to seek treatment for his or her condition.
New Legislation For Diabetics
In August, New Jersey adopted a new law that aims to address some of these issues. The law would allow diabetics to list their condition on the back of their driver’s licenses. That way, if they encounter a diabetic emergency on the road, police will know to treat the situation as a medical – and not a criminal – event.
The legislation was first introduced in the New Jersey Assembly in 2011. However, it did not get much attention until 2012, when New Jersey State Police officers had a highly-publicized encounter with a diabetic driver.
In that incident, police found the driver pulled over and incoherent on the side of the road. When the driver started behaving erratically, the police assumed he was drunk or on drugs. They ultimately engaged him in a physical struggle in which the driver suffered a broken wrist, cuts and bruises. Later, paramedics discovered that the man was a diabetic whose blood sugar was so low that he could have gone into a coma or died.
Dealing With New Jersey DUI Charges
In the wake of the new legislation, all diabetics in New Jersey would be wise to have their condition noted on their driver’s license. In addition, anyone who has a potentially dangerous medical condition can benefit from wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace that will inform first responders of their condition.
If erroneous DUI charges do result from a police stop, the best course of action is to consult with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney. The attorney will be able to evaluate all of the circumstances of the incident to ensure the accused person’s rights are protected.