False Positive: Does Your Diet Affect Breath Test Results?


The most convenient way to test the blood alcohol content or BAC is by using a breathalyzer. By blowing into a contraption, the level of alcohol in your bloodstream is determined, which is represented by the BAC values. If authorities find out that you are driving with a BAC that is more than .08%, which is the legal limit, then you’ll be taken in for DUI. However, although the breath test is a scientific method, certain issues can cause it to produce false positive readings. This is why you can contest a breathalyzer result with the help of an experienced attorney, especially if you are a hundred percent sure that you have not been drinking.

Link between Diet and Breath Tests Results

Link between Diet and Breath Tests Results

Here’s a scenario: A man was stopped at a DUI checkpoint and the police officer, after performing the breath test, discovered that his BAC was more than the legal limit. The man was not drunk, and he didn’t even go near any form of alcoholic beverage that day. So, why was his BAC beyond normal values? This could be due to his diet.

A person’s diet can affect breath test results, especially if he is under a low carb diet program. A very low daily carbohydrate intake can promote ketosis, wherein the body uses fats for energy rather than carbohydrates. During the process of ketosis, fat is metabolized and ketones are produced. Ketones are excreted with urine and they are also released via the lungs. The latter can be a problem since ketones can trigger the breathalyzer.

Hypoglycemia, wherein there is a very low level of glucose in the blood, can also trigger a false positive reading. This can be due to many factors, such as – not eating on time, going on a crash diet, and having certain medical conditions, like diabetes. The body requires glucose for energy. When the body is in a hypoglycemic stage, the body metabolizes fats, which then results in ketone production. Therefore, fasting, dieting, and consuming only protein and drastically lowering carb intake can result in false positive breath test results.

Other Factors That Could Cause False Positive Readings

— Medical Conditions and Medications

Diabetes, gastric reflux and alcohol intolerance can skew breathalyzer results. Aside from this, Phentermine / prescription drugs, allergy pills and other maintenance drugs can also influence BAC readings. Remember, alcohol and medicines do not mix. Some drugs can intensify the effects of alcohol, which further endangers health and safety.

— The Person and Test Administration

Suhre Law & Associates point out several factors that affect breathalyzer results, including the individual being tested and how the test was conducted. For instance, chewing gum or drinking carbonated drinks can make a reading inaccurate. The way a person blows into a device can have bearing on the results too. If the individual blows too long, the air deep in his lungs goes out as well, and this could contain higher amounts of alcohol-containing molecules. If he holds his breath too long, it’s also possible that he’ll have a higher BAC result.

— Dental Work and Hygiene

Even something as innocent as forgetting to properly brush one’s teeth can cause high BAC findings. Alcohol molecules can get trapped in between teeth or inside dentures or cavities. So, someone who has had some dental work done should have proper oral hygiene to avoid getting arrested at a DUI checkpoint.

This blog post was written by Claire Taylor. She is a freelancer who wants to increase people’s awareness regarding road accidents and car safety.

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