If you’re are stopped by the police for suspicion of DUI in Orange County, you may be asked to “blow” into a breathalyzer device. If you are charged with driving under the influence based on the results of that breathalyzer test, retain legal help at once and call an experienced Orange County DUI defense lawyer. A significant problem with analyzing a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level is that no two persons are physically or biologically alike. Additionally, foreign elements – anything from breath mints to gasoline – can make it almost impossible to measure BAC levels accurately. Smoking can also make breathalyzer exam results inaccurate.

One scientific study in the 1990s found that cigarette smoking can influence the body’s absorption of alcohol and thus corrupt attempts to estimate blood alcohol content. The research was published in the British Medical Journal in 1991. Researchers examined blood samples from a group of smokers for BAC levels both after smoking and after prolonged abstinence. The result was that “the peak blood alcohol concentrations were significantly less during the smoking period compared with the non-smoking period.”

The scientists concluded that the effect of smoking on alcohol absorption has “considerable social and medicolegal relevance” and that the consumption of nicotine should be considered when measuring BAC levels. Breathalyzer devices detect any compound containing the methyl group in its molecular structure, not just alcohol. The devices cannot tell the difference between alcohol and, say, acetaldehyde, which occurs naturally in coffee, bread, and ripe fruit. Acetaldehyde concentrations in the lungs of smokers are greater than for non-smokers, so smokers are more likely to have false high readings on a breathalyzer test. The bottom line is that breathalyzer devices are, for almost all purposes, inaccurate and unreliable. If you are charged with DUI in Orange County and breathalyzer results are part of the evidence against you, put your case at once in the hands of an experienced Orange County DUI defense lawyer.