Can a Breathalyzer Be Inaccurate?

You can’t fool a breathalyzer. BAC stands for blood alcohol content. A cold shower or a cup of coffee won’t decrease the amount of alcohol in your blood.

While you can’t trick a breathalyzer, a breathalyzer can trick you. Some factors, especially health conditions or occupational hazards, can cause a breathalyzer to falsely report alcohol in the blood. Here are just a few things that can make breathalyzers give inaccurate readings.

Keto Diet

Acetone is a type of ketone, meaning it’s produced when your body is in ketosis (also known as the keto diet). Acetone is made from the body’s natural alcohol. That means ethanol and acetone have a similar molecular structure, and breathalyzers can’t tell the difference. A sober person on the keto diet could register as high as 0.06% BAC on a breathalyzer.

Diabetes

People with diabetes may also blow a false positive. When a diabetic person experiences hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), their bodies produce ketones. Those ketones, just as in the case of ketosis, produce acetone.

Even worse, the symptoms of hypoglycemia can seem like drunkenness. Sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, fatigue, and movement impairment are just a few symptoms a medical layperson could misconstrue as intoxication.

Cleaning Chemicals

Fumes from certain cleaning chemicals, such as acetone, paint, or polish, can also cause a false positive. Once again, the breathalyzer cannot distinguish between chemicals in these fumes and alcohol. Therefore, anyone who works in shops or studios with polish or paint should be aware that they may falsely trigger a breathalyzer, even if they haven’t had anything to drink.
If you are charged with a DUI or DWI, you might want legal representation. If you’d like an experienced Indian Trial criminal defense attorney from Pinnacle Law to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call 704-761-4404.