Posted on: 9 December 2016
If you have been arrested for DUI based on a police officer's observation and interpretation of a breathalyzer test despite the fact that you did not consume alcohol before driving, you are probably wondering how this could happen to you. There are legitimate medical reasons that you may appear intoxicated and a number of products that can cause a false positive in a breathalyzer test. If any of them apply to you, your DUI attorney may be able to get the charges dismissed.
Medical Conditions that can Mimic Intoxication or Alter Breathalyzer Tests
If you have diabetes, there may be a very good reason why you appeared to be intoxicated and failed the breathalyzer test. According to Diabetes Health, a breathalyzer test works by emitting tiny rays of infrared light. These beams of light are absorbed by molecules in the methyl group, which includes ethyl alcohol. But, alcohol isn't the only product it will detect and register a high reading. It will also detect acetone, a byproduct of hypoglycemia, and register it as alcohol. That means if you are diabetic and you suffer from bouts of hypoglycemia a breathalyzer test may indicate that you are intoxicated, even if you have not consumed alcohol. In addition to the false positive reading for alcohol in a breathalyzer test, hypoglycemia also causes symptoms similar to a person who is intoxicated, such as slurred speech, an unsteady gait and mental confusion.
Acid reflux can cause the alcohol in a person's stomach to travel up the esophagus and into the mouth. This can trigger a positive reading for intoxication.
Many neurological disorders can mimic the effects of alcohol by altering the person's sense of balance, coordination and ability to speak clearly. If the arresting officer is relying on observation, he may misinterpret the symptoms of your disorder and assume you are intoxicated.
If a police officer suspects you are driving under the influence, he may interpret your speech difficulties as a sign of intoxication.
Products that Cause a False Positive in Breathalyzer Tests
Many people are aware that mouthwash can sometimes cause a false positive in a breathalyzer test, but you may be surprised to learn of the many other products that can have the same effect. If any of these apply to your case, discuss it with your DUI attorney so he can build your defense.
- Mouth Sprays: Mouth sprays are handy to freshen the breath, but they are not without their pitfalls. These sprays can leave enough residue in your mouth to cause you to register as intoxicated on a breathalyzer test.
- Tooth Pain Gels: The active ingredient in many tooth pain gels also triggers breathalyzers. If you have been using a gel to soothe a toothache, you may find yourself failing the breathalyzer test.
- Asthma Inhalers: Inhalers or breathing treatments administered via a nebulizer often contain, salmeterol, albuterol or budesonide, all compounds that can trigger a high reading on the breathalyzer test, even if you have not consumed alcohol.
- Cough and Cold Medications: Many nighttime cough and cold medication contain alcohol, while other formulas may contain compounds that also trigger the breathalyzer. If you have recently taken cough or cold medications, you may fail the test.
- Cough Drops: Some cough drops contain alcohol and may raise the alcohol level in your breath enough to cause you the fail the test. This is especially true if you have been using the cough drops for several days or have a tendency to chew the cough drop.
If you have other medical conditions or have consumed medications or foods that you think may have caused a false positive on your breathalyzer test, talk to your DUI attorney. You may need verification of medical conditions or medications you consume.Share