Drivers face a myriad of different challenges. Drivers distracted by their phones are 23 times more likely to get into a car accident, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The National Sleep Foundation found that 103 million Americans fell asleep at the wheel back in 2013. Icy roads cause 467 fatalities per year according to a recent study.
But low blood sugar?
Ebony Wilkerson drove her minivan with her three kids into the ocean last March, because — as her lawyers argue — her low blood sugar caused her to act irrationally.
Now, the 33 year old woman from South Carolina faces charges of child abuse and attempted murder for each her children in the van, who are all now in state custody.
“She’s driving irrationally because she has a medical condition,” argued Wilkerson’s court-appointed lawyer Craig Dyer. “It could happen to anybody.”
The diagnosis fits with reports from the scene in Daytona Beach. Wilkerson said that she was seeing spots and angels in front her eyes, while her children’s accounts make it sound as though she was sleepwalking.
First responders also provided more support for the defense. Within 10 minutes of the incident, they tested her blood sugar and found it had a level well below the general threshold of abnormally low blood sugar. According to the American Diabetes Association, 70 milligrams per deciliter is low, but Wilkerson’s blood sugar level was 44 milligrams per deciliter.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the case is that it’s not the first of its kind. Others have used abnormal blood sugar levels as a defense before.
Back in 2005, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld a similar defense from a diabetic man who struck his wife with a hammer before driving over her.
In 1996, a Florida judge allowed a diabetic burglar to use an insanity defense, which claimed the cotton candy he’d eaten induced psychosis.
The 1996 defense was unsuccessful, but only time will tell if Wilkerson’s works.