It is possible to fail a breathalyzer, specifically based on your food, medication, or other dietary intake. There are other reasons why breathalyzers show false positives aside from food, but the most important thing is that you are aware of your rights if this ever happens to you.
This article will focus on identifying which foods can alter your breathalyzer results and give knowledgeable legal advice on what to do if you are accused of driving while intoxicated after consuming alcoholic foods.
Our Okemos DUI lawyers have successfully managed many cases throughout Michigan involving invalid breathalyzer tests. DUI convictions can be damaging financially and to your future. We fight tenaciously to get you cleared. Continue reading to find out how this testing procedure is impacted by food and what your legal options are.
What Is a Breathalyzer Test and How Does It Work?
The most popular method for determining the blood alcohol content (BAC) in someone’s breath is a breathalyzer test. The idea behind a breathalyzer test is that after consuming alcohol, it enters the bloodstream and is eventually eliminated through breath, urine, and perspiration.
The breathalyzer gadget measures the quantity of ethanol in your breath to determine whether or not you have consumed alcohol. After being instructed to blow into the mouthpiece, samples from your alveolar air, which is found in the deep lungs, are present in the breath sample and are thought to represent the blood alcohol content the most accurately.
The breathalyzer works in the following stages:
- Chemical reaction: The breath sample is in touch with a sensor or fuel cell within the breathalyzer gadget, which has chemicals in it that are made to react with alcohol. Typical examples of these substances include fuel cell electrodes or potassium dichromate.
- Alcohol oxidation: When the alcohol in a breath sample is exposed to chemicals in a breathalyzer, it oxidizes. Depending on the kind of breathalyzer, this oxidation process produces an electrical current or a change in color.
- Analysis and measurement: The breathalyzer gadget measures the electrical current or color change, and the strength of the reaction is directly proportional to the quantity of alcohol contained in the breath sample. Based on this measurement, the gadget then calculates and shows the estimated BAC.
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Can Food Cause a Person to Fail a Breathalyzer Test?
There are food items that contain alcohol, but not in a quantity that would cause intoxication. However, the food items may falsely trigger a positive breathalyzer result. Fruit, hot sauce, energy drinks, pure vanilla extract, fermented sodas, and protein bars can also cause a false positive.
If you have consumed multiple food sources that have alcohol in them, and it has led to your DUI arrest, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced DUI attorney right away.
Can Medication Cause a False Reading of Your BAC?
Yes. A high BAC level can also result from certain medications. The breathalyzer may provide a false positive if you use anti-ulcer, anti-asthma, or allergy medication. Even certain supplements may have an impact on your BAC reading.
Because of this, even those who have BAC levels substantially below the limit should exercise caution while taking medicine and consuming alcohol.
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Other Common Items That Can Cause a False Positive in a Breathalyzer Test
Common items and drugs normally do not result in a person failing a breathalyzer test; nevertheless, some conditions may result in high oral alcohol levels, which might momentarily skew the test results. Remember that while these variables probably won’t result in a false positive on their own, they could affect how accurate the breathalyzer reading is.
Typical goods include toothpaste, hand sanitizer, bleach, aftershave, oral rinse products, fragrances, and cologne because they contain alcohol. Certain brands have reported high percentages of alcohol in their ingredients. In addition to alcohol-containing products and food, a false-positive breathalyzer test can also come from using insect spray.
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Are Breathalyzer Tests Ever Wrong?
As with any scientific measurement, breathalyzer tests have limits and possible sources of error. Breathalyzer tests have been known to give incorrect findings from food and other non-dietary reasons. The following are some elements that may increase the likelihood that breathalyzer results may be inaccurate:
- Breathalyzers need to be maintained: Breathalyzer equipment needs to be calibrated and maintained regularly to ensure reliable readings. A gadget might produce inaccurate results if it is not properly calibrated or maintained.
- Operator error: Proper breathalyzer test administration necessitates training and adherence to detailed protocols. The accuracy of the test can be impacted by operator errors, such as careless handling of the instrument or disregard for established protocol.
- Interfering factors: Some drugs or environmental factors may affect the findings of a breathalyzer. For instance, acetone from diseases like diabetes or a low-carbohydrate diet, as well as the presence of other volatile compounds, may influence breathalyzer findings. Environmental variables like ambient odors or chemicals may also impact results.
- Individual variations: Breathalyzer tests rely on the assumption that the overall population’s physiological features and rates of alcohol metabolism are typical. The test’s accuracy can, however, be impacted by individual variances in metabolism, breathing habits, or lung capacity.
It’s crucial to remember that although breathalyzer tests are frequently regarded as significant evidence in DUI trials, they are not 100% accurate. Consult with a lawyer if you think that food, medication, or other components affected the results of your breathalyzer test.
What to Do if You Think Your Breathalyzer Was a False Positive
You can dispute the accusations in court if you are accused of driving under the influence based on a breathalyzer test that returned a falsely positive result due to your food intake. The most successful way to beat a DUI charge is by hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Along with submitting evidence that questions the reliability of the breathalyzer, a lawyer will ensure that your case is handled discreetly and as quickly as possible. Consulting with a legal professional who can recommend the best course of action will help you avoid being falsely charged.
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