False Positive DUI Breath Tests

April 10, 2013

Causes of a False Positive DUI Breath Tests

Breathalyzers Aren’t Always Accurate

Is it possible that a DUI breathalyzer that shows positive could be false? Is it possible that you were not driving under the influence, but a breathalyzer test says you were?

The breathalyzer machine estimates the blood alcohol content (BAC) from a breath sample. It is used to measure the likelihood of impairment due to consuming alcohol.  It isn’t always accurate.

Because this test is not 100% accurate, false positives and the range of error can be a problem for Arizona drivers who may have been drinking earlier, but no longer have a high BAC.  This could lead to a DUI arrest and stiff DUI punishments.

I’m guessing that the majority of us have been given advice by our friends how to “fool” a breathalyzer if we should ever be pulled over by the police after having a few cocktails or beers.  Most people think that anyone who fails a roadside breathalyzer test must be drunk, because these machines don’t lie: they just report the facts. Well, the fact is, there are variables that can affect the outcome of one of these tests, resulting in a false positive outcome.  Don’t become a liability of a false positive test.  Make sure that you defend yourself against inaccurate breathalyzer equipment.  An experienced DUI and criminal law attorney can be a great asset to you as you are attempting to avoid DUI, DWI, or reckless driving charges because of a failed breathalyzer test.

Some of the tings that you can do to assure a more accurate breathalyzer response; First, if a breathalyzer is improperly maintained or calibrated, it may not be accurate. Records must be available and meet requirements for each machine.
Other variables that could affect the test include poor administration of the breathalyzer test, the existence of fumes/exhaust from passing cars, smoking, or even the breathing techniques used when a test is administered.
Other causes of a false positive test may be due to an individual’s health condition. Diabetics with a low blood sugar may have a false positive test. In this case, when the body is in a state of ketosis and will produce acetone, which is released by the lungs. A breathalyzer could confuse this and identify this as alcohol.

Heard of the Atkins Diet? Starving a body of carbs so that it goes into a state of ketosis in order to start burning fat? Same type of thing happens and could lead to a false positive.  Other health related causes include: persons on a high protein diets, low carb diets both types of diets, if extreme, could  produce a false positive test similar to a diabetic.   In some rare cases, smoking could have an impact on the results of the test. As smoke is inhaled into the lungs, it may cause the liver to produce certain chemicals, identified by the test as alcohol, that is exhaled by the lungs.
Lyme disease and yeast infections are also medical conditions that may have reason to create the false positive.
In other cases, breath sprays like Listerine, cough syrup, cold medicine, mouth washes, and even lip balm are products that contain alcohol, therefore, could cause a false positive breathalyzer test.

As you have read, there are several factors that can lead to inaccurate results in a breath test.  If you find yourself in trouble with the law for driving under the influence or another traffic offense that is being supported by a breathalyzer’s finding.  Contact a knowledgeable DUI and criminal defense lawyer to assist you with your case.  You probably have a great defense.

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