Breathalyzers might give false results in some cases

On Behalf of | May 6, 2016 | Breath Test Refusal

There are several factors that can affect the results of a Breathalyzer test. This means that just because you have a result that shows a blood alcohol concentration that is at or above the legal limit, you aren’t necessarily intoxicated. Still, some law enforcement officers rely so heavily on the results that they don’t accept that the results are sometimes not what they seem. One instance would be if the person who is being evaluated via the Breathalyzer has diabetes.

Approximately 15 to 20 percent of drivers on the roadways in the country suffer from diabetes. Interestingly, some of the effects of drunk driving and a low blood glucose attack mirror each other. These include slurred speech, dizziness, loss of coordination, confusion and other symptoms. This often makes it hard to determine who is diabetic and who is drunk.

When it comes to the Breathalyzer test, things don’t get any easier. Ketoacidosis, a byproduct of hyperglycemia, is an acetone. Breathalyzers rely on infrared lights that is absorbed by chemical compounds that have methyl group components in them. Acetone, as well as ethyl alcohol, is included in this group. That shows that a person who is suffering from a hyperglycemic episode might appear to be intoxicated if the Breathalyzer is used.

This means that not only diabetics can be affected by false Breathalyzer results. People who have fasted for a long period, as well as anyone else who is having a low blood glucose episode might also have a false positive result. If you think this was the case with your Breathalyzer test, you might be able to explore a defense to that effect.

Source: DiabetesHealth, “DUI or Diabetes?,” Lawrence Taylor, accessed May 06, 2016