Driving under the influence is treated as a serious crime in California and in every other state, but sometimes a driver may be wrongly convicted of DUI because of a false positive on a breathalyzer test.
Could you be wrongly accused and convicted of driving under the influence? It doesn’t happen often, but the answer is yes.
As you know, in 2018, you can go to the science page of any major news organization’s website, and you’ll read stories about the amazing advances that are being made every day in robotics, electronics, medicine, and molecular science.
WHAT KIND OF BREATHALYZERS DO POLICE DEPARTMENTS USE?
That’s why it is so hard to believe that California police agencies are still using breathalyzers that are the leftovers of mid-twentieth-century technology.
In fact, since the 1950s and the first generation of breathalyzers, there’s been no second generation. It’s essentially the same device that was being used sixty years ago.
It’s even harder to believe that innocent people are still going to jail on the basis of technology that everyone knows is outdated.
They are notoriously unreliable devices. Breathalyzers frequently return false positive readings related to non-alcoholic beverages, foods, medicines, and everyday household items.
WHY ARE BREATHALYZERS INACCURATE SO FREQUENTLY?
How can white bread, honey buns, and NyQuil trick an apparatus that is designed for detecting alcohol?
It’s because a variety of foods, drinks, and medicinal products contain traces of alcohol that a breathalyzer will detect. Yeasts in bread, for example, create residual traces of alcohol that may remain after the bread has been baked.
Many over-the-counter mouthwashes and cough syrups also include some element of alcohol.
Pecans, macadamia nuts, ripe fruits, protein bars, energy drinks, and a number of other foods will register positive for alcohol on a breathalyzer test.
Even the use of colognes, perfumes, and breath fresheners can lead to a false positive for alcohol.
WHAT MEDICAL CONDITIONS MAKE BREATHALYZER TESTS INACCURATE?
If you struggle with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or with a condition called auto-brewery syndrome, you could also be wrongly accused and charged with driving under the influence.
That’s because breathalyzers are unsophisticated, insensitive devices. They will detect any chemical substance that includes an element of the methyl group of compounds.
Yet breathalyzer evidence is used to convict thousands of drivers in California and across the nation every year.
California law assumes that if you measure a blood alcohol content (BAC) level at 0.08 percent or above on a breathalyzer, you are too intoxicated to drive. But some drivers with a high BAC level haven’t had a thing to drink.
WHAT IS AUTO-BREWERY SYNDROME?
Auto-brewery syndrome, for example, is a medical condition that causes persons with yeast in their intestines actually to ferment high-carbohydrate foods into alcohol.
Auto-brewery syndrome was identified by Japanese medical researchers in the 1970s, and the first reported case in the U.S. emerged in 2013.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) can also increase a driver’s BAC level leading to a faulty breathalyzer result and a wrongful arrest for driving under the influence.
If you routinely use a product like Maalox, Prilosec, Pepto-Bismol, Nexium, Rolaids, or Tums, you may have GERD and not know it. These products will disguise the symptoms of GERD.
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER CAUSES OF INACCURATE BREATHALYZER TESTS?
Breathalyzers assume that when you blow, the air is from your lungs, but with GERD, alcohol gas moves from the stomach to the throat.
When the alcohol gas from the stomach combines with air from the lungs, the BAC level is considerably higher than it should be for drivers with GERD.
Breathalyzers can even deliver false positive results after someone breathes gasoline or paint fumes. Persons with diabetes and hypoglycemia sufferers frequently have acetone in their breath, but breathalyzers do not distinguish between acetone and alcohol.
A breathalyzer test can be inaccurate for almost any number of reasons. Some breathalyzer models are even vulnerable to electronic interference from radios, cell phones, walkie-talkies, and radar devices.
SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED ABOUT A WRONGFUL DUI CHARGE?
Wrongful DUI arrests – and even wrongful convictions – may not be common, but they happen frequently enough that if you suffer from hypoglycemia, GERD, or diabetes, you should be concerned.
If you are arrested in southern California and charged with driving under the influence on the basis of a false positive breathalyzer reading, you must take your case immediately to an experienced Orange County DUI attorney.
If you regularly use medicine for heartburn or indigestion, and you are charged with DUI, or if you are wrongly accused of DUI for some other reason, speak immediately to a DUI lawyer for the advice and representation you’ll need.
WHAT SHOULD YOU TELL YOUR DUI DEFENSE ATTORNEY?
If you’ve been falsely accused of DUI because of something non-alcoholic that you ate or drank, explain to your attorney what happened, and your attorney, in many cases, will be able to have the DUI charged reduced or dismissed entirely.
If you have seen a doctor for GERD, diabetes, hypoglycemia, or auto-brewery syndrome, tell your attorney at once so that your medical records can be requested right away and used as evidence on your behalf.
And let your attorney know if any witnesses saw you eating bread, fruit, or nuts, or using a breath freshener or fragrance immediately before your DUI arrest.
The most precise test for drugs or alcohol is the blood sample, but even blood samples can be contaminated or improperly stored.
WHAT WILL A LAWYER DO ON YOUR BEHALF?
So if you are falsely charged with DUI, don’t give up hope. An experienced Orange County DUI attorney will try to determine why your breathalyzer result was inaccurate and will try to have the charge dismissed on that basis.
If you are stopped by the police for suspicion of DUI, don’t try to explain that it was the pecans or the NyQuil. Cooperate, but insist on your right to remain silent and on your right to an attorney.
Your DUI lawyer will use every legal tool necessary to win your case. In cases involving GERD, diabetes, hypoglycemia, or auto-brewery syndrome, your lawyer may recommend having an expert medical witness testify or submit a statement on your behalf.
Get the legal help you need – at once – if you are wrongly accused of DUI in Southern California. Your future is a priority, and legal help is your right.