An insulin-dependent diabetic man convicted of trying to kill his wife won a chance for a new trial when the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that under certain conditions, hypoglycemia or low blood sugar can cause “involuntary intoxication,” meaning the defendant wasn’t responsible for his actions.
“The court ruling gives legal standing to something diabetics and medical authorities have known for a long time,” which is that “low blood sugar can have serious affects on the way people act,” KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs reported.
Colorado joins Texas and Washington in allowing the hypoglycemia involuntary intoxication defense.
Some greeted the decision with skepticism. Bob Grant, executive director of the Colorado District Attorney’s Council, told the Denver Post that he fears the ruling could set off a wave of defenses relating to medication.
He also noted that the defendant, Steve David Garcia, Jr. had misued his medication in a 1999 incident when he injected himself with a large dose of insulin, because he was planning to eat ice cream and cake at his teenage daughter’s birthday party. But then he didn’t eat anything afterwards although he knew it could lead to adverse reactions. Later, he hit his wife with a hammer and drove over her with a van. During his trial, Garcia claimed he wasn’t legally responsible for attacking his wife, because of his hypoglycemic reaction.
I have mixed feelings about this ruling. On the one hand, having a low blood sugar episode could definitely bring about a Jekyll-Hyde transformation so it makes sense to call the person “involuntarily intoxicated.” But on the other hand, diabetics should carefully monitor their blood sugar because if they don’t, they could trigger strange behavior.
But I don’t have much sympathy for this defendant, because he took insulin just so he could splurge on cake and ice cream, which he had no business eating in the first place. Then, he abused his body by not eating afterwards.
If you’re diabetic, it’s vital to maintain proper glucose control, as scientists often note, because you can improve your odds of living longer and being more healthy.