Dieting May Cause Incorrect Breathalyzer Readings

I’m about to let you in on a secret: breathalyzers do not measure alcohol, they actually measure the presence of a molecular group in chemical compounds. Ethyl alcohol (aka ethanol) contains the group, and so when the machine detects the presence of this group, it assumes that the detected compound must be ethyl alcohol.

This problem is that there are thousands of compounds containing the molecular group. And of those thousands, over a hundred have been found on human breath.

Breathing gasoline or paint fumes can create false breath test results for days. The problem is particularly acute when the driver is a diabetic, as diabetics often have high levels of acetone in their breath (a compound which contains the group mentioned above).

And diabetics aren’t the only ones who should worry. Acetone can exist in perfectly normal individuals at levels high enough to cause false high breath-alcohol test readings. See “Excretion of Low-Molecular Weight Volatile Substances in Human Breath: Focus on Endogenous Ethanol,” 9 Journal of Analytical Toxicology 246 (1985).

Additionally, fasting or extreme dieting can lead to significantly elevated levels of acetone (which we know can produce false positives in breath testing). Fasting, for example, can increase the acetone sufficiently to create breathalyzer readings of .06%. This means that .06% will be added by the machine to any levels actually caused by alcohol or other compounds. This means that a true reading of .03% would be reported as .09%.

The lesson here? If the breathalyzer results were higher than you anticipated, it may be because the machine was wrong. Contact a Montana DUI lawyer immediately to consult on this issue. I offer a free review of DUI cases exactly because of things like this. It is so important that DUI defendants defend their rights, and the best way to do that is to consult with a Kalispell DUI Lawyer.

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