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Breathalyzer Tests Can Be Wrong: Reasons for False Positive Results

Posted on in DUI Defense

Illinois DUI defense lawyerWhen the police see someone driving erratically, they often jump to the conclusion that the person must be driving drunk or high. In such cases, a police officer may be predisposed to find reasons to request a breathalyzer test and make a DUI arrest. By the time they are done with you, you may feel like you have already been convicted. But breathalyzer tests can be wrong and there are many ways to challenge the results.

Reasons a Breathalyzer Result Could Be Wrong

You will want to let your attorney know about any possible grounds on which the breathalyzer result could be challenged. Here are some examples.  

Waiting period. To ensure that you have not consumed anything that could cause a false reading, the police are supposed to observe you for 20 minutes prior to running an evidentiary breathalyzer test (the one done at the police station). Police procedural error is a common DUI defense strategy.

Use of certain products. Some medications and personal care products contain alcohol and can affect a breath-alcohol reading. Let your attorney know if you had anything in or near your mouth around the time of your arrest, such as liquid medicine, inhaled medicine, breath fresheners, or mouthwash. Even facial cleansers and aftershave lotions can contain alcohol. Fermented foods and drinks like kombucha and alcohol-soaked desserts are other possible culprits.

Work environment. Exposure to volatile substances (cleaning fluids, paint removers, adhesives) can affect BAC readings.

Medical Conditions. Acid reflux and diabetes are two common medical conditions that can affect BAC readings. People with acid reflux have a defective valve that allows alcohol-containing liquids and gases to rise from the stomach and enter the mouth. Diabetics with high blood sugar can have a high concentration of acetones in their breath which a breathalyzer may read as alcohol. Low blood sugar can cause a diabetic to appear drunk because this condition can cause slurred speech, clumsiness, and drowsiness.

Protect Your Opportunity to Challenge the Breathalyzer Results

During a valid traffic stop, you must obey the following directions from a police officer: (1) Produce your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance, (2) Provide your true name, address, and date of birth, and (3) Obey physical commands such as to step out of your vehicle.

Illinois law does not, however, require you to answer any other questions.

If the police ask whether you have been drinking or taking drugs, you can just say, “I think it is best if I just keep quiet and not answer any questions.” If you admit to alcohol or drug use, you are just giving the police evidence they can use against you, and you make it much more difficult to challenge the breathalyzer results.

Talk to an Oak Brook DUI Defense Lawyer

If you think you have been charged with DUI based on false breathalyzer results, an experienced DuPage County DUI defense attorney may be able to challenge the test results and get the charges against you dismissed or reduced. This is just one of many possible defense strategies that could help you avoid the many negative repercussions of DUI. Call McMahon Law Offices at 630-953-4400 to discuss your options.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=072000050HArt%2E+31&ActID=1876&ChapterID=53&SeqStart=80700000&SeqEnd=81800000

https://www.alcolizer.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/12660_WhitePaper_Substances-that-Can-Affect-A-Breath-test_LR.pdf

https://harcourthealth.com/4-medical-conditions-that-affect-the-validity-of-breathalyzers/

 

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