Assembly Bill No. 945 to protect NJ diabetics from accidental drunken driving charge
22-year-old Jeff Ritter, who is a patient of type 1 diabetes, even despite his best efforts can have sudden changes in his blood sugar with which his body goes into diabetic shock.
Ritter reports that police officers mistaken diabetic shock for driving under the influence is more shocking. He said, “If you go hypoglycemic, you can exhibit symptoms of being drunk”.
He helped write legislation that allows diabetic motorists to voluntarily mark their condition on the back of their driver’s license. In 2011, Assembly bill (A945) was introduced in the Assembly and on Wednesday, it was signed into law by the governor. The law allows motorists to indicate on their driver’s licenses that they are diabetic, a bit of information that can help them in saving their lives.
On Friday, Ritter said, “There are a lot of popular misconceptions about being an insulin-dependent diabetic”.
The disease of Ritter is an autoimmune; he injects insulin before every meal and wearing a medical alert necklace or bracelet every day is necessary for him to alert medical staff of his condition when he become unconscious due to an increase or decrease in his sugar level. “You can go low at any time. You can have the best management possible for your diabetes, but some days your numbers are going to be off, said Ritter.
If insulin level in the body of a diabetic decreases too much, it won’t break down glucose, and could show symptoms as if the diabetic was intoxicated rather than suffering from dangerously decreased insulin levels.
Jeff’s father and deputy mayor of Hopewell Township said, “From a parent’s perspective, we know that if Jeffrey were to go low with his (blood sugar) numbers, he needs to have juice or some kind of sugar”. According to him, the bill is a “double safety mechanism” for his son.
The main issue with Ritter is that not all law enforcement officers might realize the signs of a diabetic in bad condition.
According to Assemblywoman Celeste Riley, “Jeff had concerns about a recent accident. He heard about someone being treated as if they were a criminal or an alcoholic”.
In 2010, the bill was prepared and in 2011, it was introduced in the assembly. In 2012, attention was paid to the bill after details were released over a Pennsylvania man’s dispute with the New Jersey State Police.
Police found Daniel Fried unconscious in his van. The police officer thought that he was drunk and treated him as he was a criminal. Fried told that he was in a diabetic shock. Jeff Ritter said, “He was treated like he was a criminal rather than having a medical issue that needed to be addressed”.
In 2014, when the law will go into effect, the medical condition of a diabetic person will be indicated on the back of the driver’s license, and police will be able to see the denotation on the driver’s driving record.
Paul Ritter said, “If they find someone unconscious or in some distress, they can quickly identify what his situation is and help them out”.
News Source: www.NJ.com