Breathalyzers don’t actually measure the blood alcohol content of
your body—they measure the blood alcohol content of someone who
is not on a diet, who has a normal level of blood sugar, and has a body
temperature of exactly 98.6 degrees. These are the settings that breathalyzers
are calibrated for, and they represent the “average” DUI suspect.
However, not everyone fits that description, which means your results may
not actually reflect your true blood alcohol content.
False readings for breathalyzers can be caused by:
●Medications containing menthol
●Higher body temperature (fever)
●High blood sugar (acetone in the breath)
For example, taking mouthwash prior to a breathalyzer test can result in
a .07% reading on its own. While the mouthwash’s effects quickly
dissipate, combined with a minimal amount of alcohol in your body could
cause a false reading above the legal limit of .08%. For diabetic suspects,
acetone is a side-effect of high blood sugar, and it can result in a false
reading as well.
One study from the
Journal of Forensic Science tested the BAC of a subject sitting in hot water with a blood test and
a breathalyzer test. The breath test yielded a much higher result than
the blood test, indicating that breathalyzers could be affected by elevated
body temperature. If you have a fever, body temperature combined with
medicine might result in a wrongful DUI charge.
All of this is assuming the device is calibrated correctly. False readings
can be equally the fault of poor maintenance or poor calibration of the
machine. If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence,
contact the Concord DUI defense attorney at The Law Offices of Darrin
M. Gamradt, P.C. His experience in criminal defense cases, both as a prosecutor
and defense lawyer, makes him uniquely qualified to handle your DWI/DUI
case. Call (888) 372-1301 today.