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Breahtalyzer may give false positive for drivers on keto diet

On Behalf of | May 21, 2019 | Drunk Driving

When a South Carolina driver is accused of drunk driving, the authorities may use a breathalyzer device to determine his or her blood alcohol concentration. However, these devices are not always accurate, potentially leading to a false positive that could result in a person being unnecessarily arrested and charged.

One attorney located in Houston, Texas, had a strange case where a driver who was charged with a DUI after taking a breathalyzer test was found not to be over the limit at all. It turns out that the driver was on the keto diet, which may have led the breathalyzer to give a false positive. The keto diet causes the liver to break down fat to turn into fuel instead of carbohydrates, creating acetone as a by-product in the body. Some of this acetone is released through the breath as isopropyl alcohol, which may be read as ethanol alcohol by breathalyzers.

Many police officers carry fuel cell-based breathalyzers, which manufacturers claim can differentiate between the two types of alcohol. Further, it is unknown if the devices would be able to detect the difference between the two alcohols if the two were mixed. Moreover, the devices can give false positives if drivers have other medical conditions, such as diabetes and acid reflux.

When individuals are accused of drunk driving, they could lose their license, face major fines and potentially even lose their jobs if they can no longer get to work. In the worst-case scenario, they may even face jail time. Additionally, the drunk driving charge could stay on people’s criminal record, potentially preventing them from seeking new employment in the future. A criminal law attorney may assist with creating a defense by reviewing the evidence and challenging the charges, especially if there are unique circumstances in the case, such as diet or a medical condition.