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I am an insulin dependent diabetic and charged with a OWI and fleeing and eluding

Kalamazoo, MI |

I had what many expressed as a diabetic episode. I remember being at an establishment having drinks, visited a restroom then the next thing I remember was being placed in a police cruiser. As to the police report and cruiser video I was found driving my vehicle and failed to stop when an officer attempted to pull me over for a few minutes. I don't recall any of this and my BAC was not high.

I have legal council and unless I can find a medical expert to support the effects and complications concerning my illness I fear my case will not end favorable for my defense..

Is there a specific consultant in Michigan I can resource to find a knowledgeable expert witness in the area of diabetic illnesses? Legal specifics to help in my defense?

Or all around opinions of the outcome to my case?

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

I think you should first start with your personal physician or endocrinologist. They will have the best feel for your medical history.

Were you able to document your blood glucose level at any time surrounding your contact with law enforcement? Also, you need to document the type of insulin you take, your last dose, your last meal, etc.

As a former paramedic and now a DUI defense lawyer, I can tell you that a diabetic emergency can quite easily be confused for intoxication.

Best of luck to you.

John Buckley
www.buckleycriminallaw.com

No answer here should be considered to form an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction so that a full evaluation of the facts of your case can be conducted.

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Asker

Posted

Unfortunately I wasn't aware to the severity of my diabetes. It wasn't until I sought medical help in response to what happened that I was diagnosed with extremely diabetes, and was put on insulin. A 3 month prior read was taken of my blood glucose level and found daily it was around 400 and as high as 600-700 as it was explained to me.

Asker

Posted

my personal physician refuses to get involved and I am running out of time to seek an endocrinologist

Drew Allan Cicconi

Drew Allan Cicconi

Posted

You can subpoena your treating doctor to testify about your condition. You do not need his permission, although he may get angry at the need to do his civic duty.

Posted

Considering your issues with your physician, I would tell your attorney to look for a copy of his Michigan Bar Journal - its a great resource for finding expert witnesses.

Beyond that, get in contact with your attorney to make sure things are progressing as they should be with your defense. He/she may have already secured an expert, or may have attempted contact with several potential experts. Either way, make sure your attorney understands your concerns.

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Posted

Are you a Type 1 diabetic, or Type 2? In either case, you first have to establish your diagnosis for diabetes. If you are taking insulin, then your endocrinologist (your treating doctor for diabetes) has diagnosed you and given you a prescription for insulin. Your attorney should get a letter from your doctor establishing your diabetes. It is not admissible in court, but can be used in plea bargaining.

That being said, do you think that you were low or experiencing a high (hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia). Each has different symptoms, but for what you describe it would appear that you had a low. Symptoms can include dizziness, pounding of the heart, blurred vision, personality change, and blackout. As you must know, you can become hypoglycemic if you drink alcohol without eating food. When was the last time you tested your blood sugar before the incident. In the September 2003 issue of Medical and Toxicological Information Review, John Arnold, MD, in a scientific article entitled “Hypoglycemia: Driving Under the Influence,” reports that:

"Hypoglycemia (abnormally low levels of blood glucose) is frequently seen in connection with driving error on this nation’s roads and highways, including accidents with personal and material damage. Even more frequently are unjustified DUIs or DWIs stemming from hypoglycemic symptoms that can closely mimic those of a drunk driver."

According to Dr. Keith Ryan in his article “Alcohol and Blood Sugar Disorders”, 8(2) Alcohol, Health and Res. World (1983), consumption of even small amounts of alcohol can produce hypoglycemia — either fasting glycemia or reactive glycemia. Fasting glycemia can exist where a person has not eaten in 24 hours or has been on a low-carbohydrate diet. Production of glucose in the liver is stopped while the alcohol is broken down. Result: the blood sugar level will drop, affecting the central nervous system — and producing symptoms of intoxication.

There is also the issue of the presence of acetone in the breath of diabetics in distress as a cause of false arrests of diabetics for DUI. This is an issue with hypoglycemia, and I do not have time to discuss it here.

Your treating doctor could certainly act as your expert witness since he could readily testify to the effects described above. Get him a copy of the article by Dr. John Arnold, and he can cite it for background, but it is all about diabetes masquerading as being under the influence of alcohol.

Get an attorney who knows about these issues.

I hope this helps.

Disclaimer: This is a general discussion of legal principles by a California lawyer and does not create an attorney/client relationship. This is not intended to be legal advice in your specific case. It's impossible to give detailed, accurate advice based on a few sentences on a website. You should always seek advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction who can give you an informed opinion after reviewing all of the relevant information in your case.

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Drew Allan Cicconi

Drew Allan Cicconi

Posted

Correction: Acetone in the breath is an issue with hyperglycemia not hypoglycemia. The problem with high blood sugar levels is that it can lead to physical problems, both in the short term and in the long run. For People With Type I Diabetes, Ketoacidosis can develop with high blood sugar levels. That is, Ketoacidosis is a serious condition that usually occurs only in people with type 1 diabetes. It happens when the body has become too acidic because of high levels of ketones in the blood. Ketones are substances that form when the body does not have enough insulin. If that happens, the body cannot use sugar and instead starts to burn body fat as fuel. If you don’t take extra insulin when your body begins to make ketones, serious problems can occur. (Note: Acetone, hydroxybutyrate, and acetoacetate are ketones, byproducts of fat metabolism.)

Asker

Posted

I am hyperglycemic, so my daily blood sugar ran extremely high and being after officially diagnosed and my levels tested for how long I was showing such high levels, I was told that my sugar level had been extremely high for as long as could be tested by my doctor (about 3-4 months) but he indicated it was probably for many years longer.... and I am considered a type 1 diabetic ...

Drew Allan Cicconi

Drew Allan Cicconi

Posted

As the father of a Type 1 diabetic son, I know about the seriousness of being hyperglycemic. The blood sugar levels you are indicating in your other comments are very dangerous. This is not a condition you should try to treat yourself! Call your doctor immediately if your blood sugar is above 240 mg/dL AND you have ketones in your urine. There is a simple test kit for this called Ketone Care Test Strips. Your doctor will tell you what to do. If you are unable to reach your doctor, go to the nearest emergency room right away. However, the way to avoid such complications is to keep a lid on your blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels are considered to be above normal when they rise above 120 mg/dL before meals or above 180 mg/dL after meals. If you were recording levels as indicated in your messages of 600 to 800 mg/dL, then you were in serious trouble, and probably experiencing symptoms of Ketoacidosis. Be mindful of your condition and you can live a healthy life with diabetes. If you took a blood test at the time of your arrest, and a sample was saved, you can test it for ketones.

Posted

By "not high", what exactly do you mean? If your BAC was over the legal limit, the diabetic episode isn't going to make much difference because .08% and higher is per se intoxicated. Even if you can show that your illness may have caused some effects similar to intoxication, it won't matter if in fact you were actually intoxicated as well. You can't drive around while you're actually drunk, even if you're diabetic. However, if your BAC was under a .08%, the prosecutor will have to show that you were at minimum "visibly impaired" as a result of your consumption of alcohol. At this point, you could argue that your visible impairment, if any, was caused by your condition and not by alcohol. I wish you luck.

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Drew Allan Cicconi

Drew Allan Cicconi

Posted

Dear Andrew: Most people do not have experience with diabetes and the problems associated with high blood sugar levels. As a result, they are not on the lookout for the presence of Ketoacidosis.The problem is that Ketones are produced when a diabetic goes high (blood sugar levels above 250) through the introduction of carbohydrates, causing his or her body to produce isopropyl alcohol. Unfortunately, many DUI breath testing devices do not distinguish between isopropyl and ethyl alcohol. This means that those who are diabetic can produce a false positive for BAC, notwithstanding the fact that he or she may have consumed little or even no alcohol. (Note: Under acidic conditions in the blood, the three-carbon ketone acetone is converted to the three-carbon alcohol isopropanol. (See W. Jones & L. Anderson, Biotransformation of Acetone to Isopropanol Observed in a Motorist Involved in a Sobriety Check, 40 J. FORENSIC SCI. 666 (1995).)

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