When I wrote the original article, the accepted standard for low blood glucose readings (hypoglycemic) at <5 was considered impaired (in Canada). The updated regulations, as reported by the Canadian Diabetes Association, maintains that the largest concern about diabetics driving is still considered to be hypoglycemia. However, the regulations were changed in 2015 and now reports that impaired levels for low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia) is considered <4. You can read about this in the Canadian Diabetes Association document ... see section 3j and 5j.
If you have diabetes, please be aware that in most jurisdictions you can be found impaired while driving if your blood sugar levels are below 4.0. There is also an upper limit, but harder to determine what that is.
What to do if you need to drive and blood sugar is below 4.0 If your blood glucose level is below 4.0, do not drive, period -- if stopped, you are considered "impaired".
- Take 15-20 grams of fast acting glucose (or simple carbohydrates)
- test again in 15 minutes. To drive after this, your blood levels should raise to 5.0 or above. If below 5.0, repeat #1
Once your blood sugar levels are 4.0 or above, eat a small snack if your meal is more than 2 hours away. Wait another 15 minutes and re-check your blood sugar level. If 5.0 or over, you should be able to drive (use your judgement and see the disclaimer).
What is 15 grams of simple carbohydrates?
- glucose tablets such as Dex 4 (follow package instructions)
- gel tube such as Insta-Glucose (follow package instructions)
- 2 tablespoons of raisins
- 120 ml (4 ounces or 1/2 cup) of juice or regular soda (not diet)
- 1 tablespoon sugar, honey, or corn syrup
- 8 ounces of nonfat or 1% milk
- hard candies, jellybeans, or gumdrops (see package to determine how many to consume)
You also need to be aware that diabetes also creates acetone that could impact a breathalizer test. You may not have had any alcohol, but still have a read that could get you charged with impaired as well.
Carry your Medic Alert or Medic ID with your medical condition, doctor contact information, and prescriptions (and other medications) clearly listed. I chose the Vital ID fabric bracelet. It is far less expensive than products labelled "Medic Alert", but price was not the major consideration. I wanted something that was not made of metal. My main computer is a notebook computer, and any metal on my wrist (watch or bracelet) damages the notebook computer. The Vital ID bracelet is waterproof and attaches with velcro. Included is a waterproof folded information slip. With a black permanent fine tip market, I included all the information about my health. I resisted wearing any kind of medical alert until I read about someone else who had a hypoglycemic reaction to too much insulin. Since she did not have a medical alert, the paramedics were unable to determine what the problem was and she did not get treatment for hypoglycemic until after reaching the hospital. With a medical alert bracelet, treatment could have happened much faster to avoid complications. The Vital ID bracelet is about one-third the cost of other medical alert bracelets or necklaces. The first Vital ID bracelet I ordered was the charcoal one. I have since re-thought this and wanted to make the medical alert more noticeable. I have since ordered and wear the red one as pictured.
If you have an accident while driving with a blood sugar level below 5.0, you also may have problems with insurance coverage – your insurance company could deny coverage.