Did alcohol or diet trigger a false-positive Breathalyzer result?

On Behalf of | Jan 27, 2021 | Blood Alcohol Tests

It is illegal in South Carolina to drive with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. But police officers cannot determine that by sight. They need clues to stop someone suspected of driving under the influence and science to make their case – assuming it is reliable.

Speeding, swerving, rolling through a stop sign or running a red light can be telltale signs of impaired driving, especially late at night. An officer might pull over a motorist and ask them to blow into a Breathalyzer and measure their BAC. However, roadside chemical tests can be untrustworthy for a variety of reasons.

The driver’s medications may corrupt results. So can a healthy diet. Natural foods like nuts, fruits and protein bars can influence an alcohol breath test. So can the ketogenic diet in which fat replaces carbohydrates to fuel the body and shed weight. During ketosis, the body exhales a byproduct as isopropyl alcohol. Breathalyzers are not designed to differentiate isopropyl alcohol from ethanol alcohol that is in beer, wine and liquor.

Booze or benign?

Consider the former American Airlines flight attendant who was fired because he failed a breath test in 2019. Andrew Riley blamed ketosis for registering a 0.05% BAC. The airline let him go because he also had failed a breath test in 2013.

Federal law says a flight attendant can be banned for life from working for an airline for a second alcohol-related offense. Riley says he was on the keto diet in 2019 and not drinking. He is fighting to keep his job and require different testing for similar dieters.

Palmetto State drivers face similar stakes if they refuse to take a breath test. It is your legal right. But all motorists in South Carolina must consent to alcohol and drug testing as part of a DUI stop or they automatically will have their license suspended for six months.

Other consequences include the prosecutor piling on more charges for refusing a Breathalyzer. A judge or jury may interpret refusal as an admission of guilt.

On the other hand, refusing a blood test could limit proof of your BAC to the arresting officer’s opinion. Demanding an implied consent hearing may grant you temporary driving privileges.

Scrutinize for peace of mind

A DUI conviction can rob you of your freedom, your job and your reputation. Don’t take on the system alone. An experienced criminal attorney can build a viable defense by scrutinizing the circumstances of your arrest.

They may be able to discredit the state’s case by documenting how breath tests can produce false-positive results and block them from being used in court. All while restoring your driving privileges and peace of mind.

National College for DUI Defense | General Member

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