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March 3, 2005

Hypoglycemia, Other

Question from Portland, Oregon, USA:

The other day, my son was experiencing a low blood sugar while we were driving home. My older daughter was encouraging him to eat something. Since he is only three years old and did not understand the urgency of the situation, he was refusing to eat until he got home. Rather than pull over, I continued home. I guess I rolled slowly through a stop sign. There was no other traffic around and I was not putting any other drivers at risk. An officer pulled me over for failing to stop. I think he got irritated at me when I excused myself for a minute to attend to my son. My son then decided to eat something. I tried to explain what was happening to my son and that I was in a rush to get home, which was less than a mile away. He did not understand and gave me a ticket. Do I have a case for fighting this ticket or should I just pay it and move on? I am concerned about this only because I have a perfect driving record up until this point and I would like it to stay that way.

Answer:

I think the safest thing would have been to have pulled over, stopped and taken care of your son. Even if you had not gone through a stop sign, his blood sugar may have dangerously dropped while you drove or his behavior could have become erratic causing a dangerous situation (even if this never happened before). I don’t think it is safe to drive with a child who is low and refusing to eat.

I guess in terms of the ticket, you’d have to convince the judge that there was no place to stop and pull over safely. You might be able to convince him that it was an emergency to get home as soon as possible, but then at least you should have had your emergency blinkers on if you went through a stop sign. Whether you win in court or not, I suggest, in the future,you try to stop and pull over if you can do so safely if a similar situation arises again. If you can’t pull over safely, put on your emergency blinkers. You might also want to test your son’s blood sugar or give him a snack before he goes in the car in the future.

TGL
Additional comments from Jane Seley, diabetes nurse specialist:

I have thought about your situation carefully, and, honestly, I think you should have pulled over to the side of the road and taken care of your son immediately. Trying to rush home and rolling through stop signs is an unsafe action. When you are in the middle of these situations, it is sometimes hard to think about all of your options. In the future, you should always be prepared to treat lows by carrying a variety of fast acting carbohydrates with you that your son likes (Jelly Beans would be my choice, but you know best what your son likes).

JS
Additional comments from Debbie Butler, MSW, LICSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker:

You may want to call the American Diabetes Association and ask for the advocacy department. They may know how to answer your question.

DB
Additional comments from Dr. Larry Deeb:

Most states allow you to attend a class and the ticket doesn’t count on your record. If you have unlimited time and energy, I expect a judge might be understanding. I just don’t have the time, so I’d go to driving school.

LD
Additional comments from Dr. Jim Lane:

I can certainly see your point. Your son was your first priority. In this particular situation, I am not sure whether you would have a basis for having the violation waived. Your best bet would be to contact a lawyer about this. They would have a better idea if similar cases have been waived in the past. I have heard of such a thing, but I am afraid this might also be a local issue and subject to what has occurred in the community previously.

JTL