Client a 33 year old man from Fitchburg was arrested and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol also known as OUI, DUI or DWI. He was additionally cited for the civil infractions of possession of an open container, and a marked lanes violation.
A Massachusetts state police trooper pulled the client’s vehicle over after observing him cross over a marked lane. At the time of the stop the client was in the process of pulling into a McDonald’s parking lot. The trooper made observations of a strong odor of alcohol, slurred speech and two nip bottles of Southern Comfort in the vehicle, one full and one empty.
The trooper asked the client to step out of the vehicle and perform some field sobriety tests. The trooper made further observations that the client was unsteady on his feet. The client informed the trooper that he was a type one diabetic and that he was just there to get something to eat. The trooper failed to ask the client when the last time he had taken his insulin was or the last time he checked his blood sugar. He also declined to ask the client if he needed something to eat or ask when the last time he ate. The trooper further failed to call paramedics to evaluate the client. Instead the trooper proceeded to have the client perform a series of field sobriety tests. The trooper testified that the client did not pass any of the field sobriety tests.
Once the client was placed under arrest the trooper testified the client began to bang his head into the back of the cruiser window and yell and swear at the trooper. He further testified that back at the barracks the client’s tirade against him continued with yelling and swearing and racial remarks and that at one point the client pulled down his pants exposing his genitalia. He further testified that the client was so uncooperative that he had to end the booking process and got into a physical struggle with him when taking him to the cell.
Attorney Damian Riddle and his client elected to try the case jury waived in front of a judge. On cross examination Attorney Damian Riddle was able to get the trooper to admit that the client told him he was a diabetic and that he needed something to eat. The trooper further admitted that as a trained first responder he is aware that diabetics can emit an odor similar to an odor of alcohol; that a diabetic with low blood sugar can be disoriented and have dizziness, nausea and confusion among other symptoms. The trooper admitted that he did not take any steps to investigate further that the client may be suffering from low blood sugar, but instead forged ahead with administering field sobriety tests and eventually arrested him.
The client elected to testify at trial and stated that he had not eaten in approximately five hours and could feel his blood sugar getting low and that is when he decided to stop and eat at McDonalds. He testified that he performed the field sobriety tests to the best of his ability but again was feeling his low blood sugar and that likely affected his performance. He testified and the trooper confirmed that he was polite and cooperative up until he was arrested. Once he was arrested however and the gravity of the situation sunk in the client became irate. He testified that he felt he was wrongfully arrested and was not being treated fairly and that was the reason for his behavior in addition to having low blood sugar.
Attorney Damian Riddle was left presenting a “hangry” defense in addition to a low blood sugar defense. Fortunately the Commonwealth was unable to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s operation, performance on field sobriety tests and behavior were as a result of being under the influence of alcohol as opposed to low blood sugar and being upset over his arrest. The Judge found the client not guilty on the charge of operating under the influence. The Court did find the client responsible on the two civil infractions.