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Breath tests can yield false positive results

When a driver is stopped by a member of the Kentucky law enforcement community on suspicion of driving under the influence, it is common practice for the officer to administer one or more field sobriety tests to gather evidence. A breath test is often given to gauge the driver's blood alcohol content by measuring the ethanol content of the individual's breath. If the driver blows over the limit, this is generally used as part of the grounds for an arrest. However, there is some medical evidence to question the accuracy of the breath test under certain circumstances.

Health experts report that different diets can cause the body to produce certain chemicals that breath tests may not be able to properly read. For instance, the keto diet promotes low carbohydrate intake, which triggers the liver to burn fat, thereby creating acetone that may be released through the breath as isopropyl alcohol. It is a subject of dispute whether the handheld device used by patrol officers can accurately distinguish between ethanol alcohol and isopropyl alcohol. In addition, certain medical conditions such as diabetes or acid reflux have been shown to yield false test results.

In the big picture, however, the accuracy of the field test breath test may be of little consequence. It is not typically used for evidence of the crime of DUI, merely for evidence for grounds to arrest. A second breath test is administered at the police station after arrest with a machine far more sophisticated and accurate then the field machine. It less likely that this machine will indicate a false positive result.

Although the police gather various amounts of evidence in a DUI case, a DUI lawyer may work to challenge their methods. Among the issues to look at are the grounds for the initial stop, what occurred during the stop and how the arrest was conducted. It might be possible to get the charges dismissed if proper procedures were not followed.

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