Breathalyzers are a common way for a police officer to determine whether or not a suspect has a BAC above the legal limit. Officers use the breathalyzer as a tool to to as evidence in a DWI or DUI case. Although breathalyzers are generally pretty reliable, there are several factors which could cause a false positive.
- Cigarettes – Scientific evidence has proven that smoking cigarettes can cause a false positive because many breathalyzers falsely report acetaldehyde as alcohol. Acetaldehyde is produced during the metabolism of alcohol, but appears in greater concentrations in the lungs of cigarette smokers, which could show a higher BAC than the driver really has.
- Diabetes and Hypoglycemia – A well documented byproduct of low blood sugar is ketoacidosis which causes the production of acetone which can be falsely read by a breathalyzer test as alcohol. In addition early symptoms of a diabetic attack are similar to those of an impaired person: dizziness, slurred speech, blurred vision, loss of coordination, and confusion.
- Empty Stomach or Low Carb Diet – If you haven’t eaten in a while, or are on a low carbohydrate diet your glucose level may already be low, and just a little bit of alcohol can stop production of glucose, leading to low blood sugar and the production of acetone, which can be falsely read as alcohol by some breathalyzer tests.
- Belching or Acid Reflux – If you have burped within the last twenty minutes, or are experiencing acid reflux then the amount of alcohol on your breath will be higher due to alcohol from the stomach making its way to your mouth, which could cause a BAC reading to be higher than it actually is.
- Mouthwash – If you have had one or two drinks but are under the limit, don’t reach for the mouthwash when you see the red and blue lights in your rear view mirror. This is because most mouthwashes contain alcohol, and preforming a breath test after using mouthwash could produce a higher BAC reading.
These factors should be considered when deciding whether or not to take the breath test. The roadside breathalyzer test is not required by Missouri law, but the breathalyzer at the police station is required, and failure to take the test can lead to suspension of your drivers license, even if you are not charged with DWI. It is always a good idea to consult a DWI lawyer before deciding to take the breathalyzer at the police station. By law you are given the option to take twenty minutes to talk to a Missouri DWI attorney.
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