DWI/DUI detection procedures are set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and documented in the NHTSA “DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST)” Participant Manual. When talking about a DWI/DUI in New Hampshire, the acronym DWI means “driving while impaired” and is synonymous with DUI, “driving under the influence.”
Diabetes & DWI in NH
As the saying goes……If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. Right? Well maybe not if you’re talking about DWI and diabetes. Police officers are quick to believe that a motorist is impaired from alcohol based on very few signs and symptoms of impairment. Oftentimes, an odor of alcohol alone will change a routine motor vehicle stop into a full blown DWI investigation. As it is, police officers have minimal training in detecting impaired drivers. And, the training they do have-most of which is based on junk science-is believed by many to be accurate and reliable indicators of DWI. In reality, once a police officer detects a few signs and symptoms of potential impairment, harmless reasons for such symptoms are quickly overlooked or cast aside as the DWI investigation proceeds.
For the diabetic driver, a legitimate medical condition can be easily confused with DWI impairment. Diabetics commonly experience hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels). This condition can produce symptoms which include slow and slurred speech, poor balance, staggering, drowsiness, flushed face and disorientation. These are the very symptoms of impairment that police officer are trained to equate with alcohol intoxication! For this unlucky driver—a DWI arrest is looming. This person will look, sound and act like a drunk driver to the investigating officer, and will certainly fail any field sobriety test. As one expert in the field stated: