The Law Office of Derek R. Ewin.

Medical Conditions To Blame For Failing DUI Tests


You are driving down the road when all of a sudden you see blue lights coming in behind you. You know that you have done nothing wrong, as you have had nothing to drink. You pull over, and immediately the police officer tells you that he suspects that you have been driving under the influence. You protest, of course, because you have nothing to drink, and you are feeling fine. The officer insists that you take a breathalyzer, and when you comply, you find out that your blood alcohol level is over the legal limit. How is that possible when you have not had a drop to drink?

Breathalyzers are not 100% accurate. In fact, they are often times just flat out wrong. Sometimes, it is because they are used improperly, or it is because you have a medical condition. We have seen many strange reasons that give false breathalyzer readings. There are several medical conditions that will cause a false positive with a breathalyzer test. These include:

  • GERD also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease.
  • Heartburn and acid reflux.
  • Gut fermentation syndrome.
  • Diabetes
  • High protein diets.
  • Diabetes.
  • Fasting
  • Hypoglycemia.

How Breathalyzers Work

To get an accurate reading, a breathalyzer must get the deep lung air. This is the air that is closest to your blood supply. This is why you are asked to blow so hard into the breathalyzer. If you take a short breath, that is not deep, the breathalyzer could get an inaccurate reason. The police officer should hold you there for about 15 minutes or so. HE may decide to do multiple breath testing to ensure that there is an accurate reading of your breath.

There are some people that simply cannot blow air hard enough to get an accurate breath reading. Those that are older or who have breathing problems like asthma can have trouble blowing into the breathing apparatus. For those that it is extremely difficult to breathe in the breathalyzer, they may be required to give a blood test instead.

Let’s say you were at a party, and you took just a sip of alcohol. Did you know that the breathalyzer may mistakenly pick that up? Some of the alcohol that you ingest will get in the mucosal lining of your mouth. If you blow into a breathalyzer, you may register as being over the legal limit even though you did not ingest much of the alcohol.

How Medical Conditions Cause Unreliable Tests

There are several disorders out there that can cause a false positive with a breathalyzer. You could find yourself being charged with a DUI even if you have never had a drop. If you find yourself being charged in this way, you will want to contact us as soon as possible. Here are some of the medical conditions that you might have that could create a false reading on a breathalyzer.

  • Digestive disorders. There are several disorders that cause mouth alcohol readings. Conditions like GERD and acid reflux can cause this. Alcohol and acid from your stomach can go back into your esophagus. This can cause a breathalyzer to think that you are drunk. Of course, prosecutors will claim that the modern DUI test does not read in this way, and they can determine what is mouth alcohol, and what is deep lung air. However, there have been several cases of the breathalyzer reading someone is drunk when they have not had a drop of alcohol.
  • Blood sugar. Mouth alcohol can also occur in those people that have diabetes, are fasting, having issues with their blood sugar, or those that are on certain diets. We get our energy from carbohydrates in our diets. Our digestive system breaks down these carbs into sugars. These sugars turn into our bodies’ main fueling source. If we do not eat enough carbs in our diet, our blood sugar will not work correctly. Our body will then turn to our fat stores. The liver will break down the fat, and when it has broken down the fat, it is turned into ketones and isopropyl alcohol. Our bodies will burn the ketones for fuel, but the liver will also produce acetone. This acetone is put out by the urine as well as the breath. In most cases, breathalyzers can tell the difference in the forms of alcohol, but there have been cases where this has not been the case.
  • There are several diets out there that may cause the reading of your breathalyzer to be wrong. This includes diets like the keto diet. The keto diet forces your body to burn your fat, which will, in turn, create alcohol in your body. This alcohol can be present when you breathe into the breathalyzer. If you are on a keto diet, you may want to mention this to the officer. It might not always work, but if they know beforehand of any health conditions you have, it may help your situation.
  • Fasting can cause an issue with alcohol coming up in your mouth. This can be produced because your body has started taking energy from your fat reserves.
  • In some rare cases, different medications you are on may cause a false positive reading. If you believe that your medication may have caused the false positive, you may want to consult with your doctor to see if this may be a reality. If it is, your doctor can work with both you, and your lawyer to show that the medication caused the faulty breathalyzer test.

Can Medical Evidence Be Presented?

Once you have had a positive DUI breathalyzer, the police officer will bring you into the jail and process you. You will have to go through the steps to get bonded out. You do run the risk of jail time, losing your license, and more. However, if you can prove that you suffer from, a medical condition, you will be able to get your DUI conviction overturned. You will need to provide medical records that show exactly what kind of medical condition that you have. Be prepared to present all of your medical records to the court, so that they can go over them.

Hiring a lawyer is in your best bet as they will know everything that you will need to have. You can represent yourself, but you will be doing yourself a major disservice. Hiring an attorney that has experience in medical issues is imperative.

Arrested? We Can Help!

If you have found yourself arrested for a DUI, and you know that you have not had a drop of alcohol, you should call our offices immediately. We will help you to prove your medical condition and show to the judge how you have a health condition that caused the false positive. We should be able to help you to throw your DUI charge out the window and help you to ensure that you do not get charged with a DUI again because of a health condition.

Please call our defense attorneys at DM Cantor today, we are ready and waiting to set up an appointment to meet you and get started on winning your case. We can be reached via phone at (602) 307-0808. We have someone to answer the phones 24-7 so that we can make sure that we get to your case quickly.

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Derek R. Ewin

About the Author

Derek R. Ewin, is a full-service law firm where attorneys with their extensive experience provide strong & Aggressive defense against DUI & Criminal case.