Alcohol breath test false positives possible on ketogenic diet

On Behalf of | May 8, 2019 | DUI/DWI Defense |

Police officers in New Jersey often rely on the results of breath tests to determine the intoxication of drivers during traffic stops. Results that show a high blood alcohol concentration typically provide grounds for a DUI arrest on top of observations made by a police officer. Evidence has emerged, however, that breath test equipment could be prone to producing a false positive for people following a ketogenic diet.

This diet promotes ketosis within the body, which involves the liver processing fat into fuel. Acetone results from this process, and the substance can appear in exhalations as isopropyl alcohol. Police equipment is made to measure ethanol alcohol to detect drinking, but the breath analyzer might measure isopropyl alcohol by mistake.

The manufacturers of police breath analyzers insist that their machines only respond to ethanol alcohol. Research to confirm this claim is scant. One legitimate study, however, concluded that the breath analyzer might not accurately distinguish between the two forms of alcohol. This study resulted from an investigation of a man on a low carbohydrate diet who could not activate a company vehicle outfitted with a breath analyzer ignition lock.

Someone arrested for drunk driving might not find much sympathy in court regarding claims of inaccurate breath testing. The representation of an attorney, however, might convince a court to take special circumstances into account. An attorney may highlight a person’s health condition or mistakes made by police during a sobriety test. The presentation of a DUI/DWI defense might result in a reduced charge or enable the negotiation of a plea deal. An attorney may be able to broker a deal that allows a person to continue driving to work and thereby prevent job loss while completing other aspects of a criminal sentence.


FindLaw Network