Another Drunk…or Diabetic

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on April 3rd, 2007

Yesterday I discussed the problem of chemical compounds on the breath which are falsely reported as ethyl alcohol by breathalyzers.  Diabetics, for example, have elevated levels of acetones on their breath when hypoglycemic.  Unfortunately, they also exhibit false symptoms of intoxication — as today's news demonstrates:


Mistaken for Drunk, Mr. Universe is Arrested

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.  April 3 (AP)  – The reigning Mr. Universe faces assault and resisting arrest charges following a run-in with police who mistakenly believed the diabetic bodybuilder was intoxicated.

Doug Burns, 43, was sprayed with Mace and wrestled to the ground by officers who were summoned to a movie theater Sunday night by a security guard, authorities said.

Burns, who was trying a new diabetes drug that night, said Monday he was preparing to see a film when he felt dizziness and poor vision — a sign of low blood sugar — and hurried to a snack counter.

The security guard noticed Burns' strange behavior and asked him to leave, thinking he was intoxicated, Redwood City Police Capt. Chris Cessina said.

When officers arrived, Burns allegedly lunged at one of them, pushing him to the ground with both hands, and took a fighting stance, Cessina said. Burns continued being combative until four officers wrestled him down, the captain said.

During the scuffle, the officers did not notice Burns' Medic Alert bracelet. An on-scene medical test later confirmed that Burns had low blood sugar during the incident, Cessina said…


Setting aside the question of whether you believe a diabetic weakened by hypoglycemia would assault four cops for no reason, this is another example of a commonly-encountered phenomena in DUI arrests.  See "Drunk Driver?…or Diabetic?" and "The Diabetic DUI".

But it's not really a problem, right?  I mean, how many diabetics falsely charged with DUI can there be out there?  From the American Diabetes Association:


There are 20.8 million children and adults in the United States, or 7% of the population, who have diabetes. While an estimated 14.6 million have been diagnosed, unfortunately, 6.2 million people (or nearly one-third) are unaware that they have the disease…

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