4 Medical Conditions That Affect The Validity Of Breathalyzers

No two people are alike, but why do breath tests assume that all drivers being tested for blood alcohol content have the same physiological attributes? BAC or blood alcohol content is the main piece of evidence used in court to prove that the arrested driver had a BAC greater than the legal limit. Sadly, there are many drivers who have been convicted of DUI, even though their BAC was truly below the limit.

What Is The Breath Test?

The breath test is carried out using a breathalyzer to determine the blood alcohol content of a driver who is suspected of driving under the influence. It is performed with the driver blowing continuously into the breathalyzer for more than five seconds to test the deep lung air. This test is often performed after field sobriety tests have been administered to get an exact result of the intoxication. However, the breath test has been known to provide inaccurate results due to the medical conditions or physical circumstance of the driver.

Medical Conditions That Affect Breath Test Results

There are certain medical conditions that affect the results of a breath test. People with diabetes or who are on a diet often have higher levels of acetone than normal. This can lead to a higher BAC reading as acetone is a substance often falsely identified as ethanol. These are other medical conditions that can affect breath test results.

  • Asthma

People who use asthma inhalers should think twice before taking a breath test, because asthma inhalers work by emitting mist containing a certain amount of alcohol into the lungs which is about one third of the mist. The alcohol is not absorbed in the blood as it remains in the lung lining, but it is exhaled into the breathalyzer, thus giving a high BAC reading. Sadly, a small amount of alcohol from an inhaler stored in the lungs is multiplied which means that even a small amount if alcohol from the inhaler can still emit high readings.

  • Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is triggered by different medical conditions that occur when the valve separating the stomach from the esophagus is unable to close completely. So whenever a driver belches, the defective valve allows liquids and gases to rise from the stomach and enter the throat and mouth before being swallowed again. These gases and liquids contain alcohol and when exhaled into the breathalyzer, the BAC can be high.

  • Diabetes

Diabetics often experiences high and low blood sugar and they can lead to inaccurate BAC results. Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia causes the diabetic to exhibit symptoms of slurred speech, drowsiness, disorientation and poor motor control, that can be mistaken for drunkenness. High blood sugar or hyperglycemia can lead to Diabetic Ketoacidosis which produces acetones in breath. The breathalyzer will read the acetones as alcohol and provide high results.

It is essential to have medical records that can back up your defense to an inaccurate breath test result. If you are able to show an influence that affects the accuracy of the breath test result, the court will have to rely on other forms of evidence to prove that you were intoxicated thus weakening the DUI charges against you.

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Valerie Terger is a freelance writer specializing in a variety of legal topics such as driving under the influence. She offers information about DUI, such as how intoxication is determined and how breath tests can be inaccurate. Click here to learn more about DUI defense and the inaccuracies of breathalyzers due to medical conditions.