Mobile County Criminal Law Attorney

DUI - Breathalyzer and False Positives - Darley Law

DUI and False DUI Test Positives in Alabama

Getting arrested for a DUI in Alabama is a serious matter. This is a state that takes a harsh view of drunk driving, and even a first-time offender can face life-changing penalties if convicted.

Many DUI arrests are based on tests that can be far from accurate. Even though our society now has some of the most technologically advanced devices in history, the ones used to measure alcohol content at most DUI stops are considered relics that are incredibly fallible. These are devices that are not only unreliable but also easily fooled by any number of household products, foods, and beverages.

Even though a roadside breath test can’t be used against you in court, the police will still use these tests as probable cause for a DUI arrest. If there was something wrong with that initial test, your arrest might have been unlawful. There are many common things that can fool a breathalyzer and create a false positive result.

The Foods You Eat

Believe it or not, what you eat can cause you to have a false-positive DUI test. Everyone laughed when Seinfeld’s Elaine tested positive for opium at work after eating poppy seed muffins, but you probably won’t think it’s very funny if you get arrested for DUI because of your diet.

Some of the foods that can bring you trouble include items eaten for a low-carb diet, which results in higher levels of ketones and acetone. Others include:

  • Breads (sourdough and white)
  • Protein bars
  • Hot sauces
  • Ripe fruit
  • Sugarless gums
  • Honey Buns (yes, really)
  • Dishes cooked with alcohol

Other Beverages

Even if you made a point to stay away from alcoholic beverages, certain other drinks have been known to cause a false positive test. These include fermented sodas, energy drinks, and non-alcoholic beer or wine.

Certain Medications

If you are taking certain over-the-counter or prescription medications, these can wreak havoc with a breathalyzer test. Some of the medicines that you can put on your list to check include:

  • Cough syrups
  • Sleep aids
  • Asthma inhalers
  • Vitamins

Other personal care items, even though they are not medications, may also create a false positive result. These include mouthwashes, breath freshener sprays, and after-shaves or cosmetics that are used around the mouth.

Medical Conditions

Many people are unaware that a medical condition could have impacted their DUI test. For example, you can have an elevated breath test result due to heartburn, gastrointestinal reflux disease, or acid reflux because stomach acid tends to flow back into the stomach or mouth. Also, people who have uncontrolled diabetes could have elevated test results due to higher levels of acetone in the body.

Machine Calibration

Police are supposed to follow strict guidelines for calibrating their breath testing equipment. Either this may not happen as it should, or the calibration isn’t properly documented. When a breathalyzer isn’t calibrated correctly, it will be more likely to return a false positive result.

The Time Factor

The timing of DUI tests is critical, and failure to follow the correct procedures could result in a test that is inaccurate. For example, if officers observe you burping, drinking, or becoming ill, they must wait 15 minutes before administering a test to get accurate results. In other cases, you may have been within the legal limits when driving, but a positive test later only shows a higher level because your BAC was rising.

Environmental Contamination

Breathalyzers are sensitive pieces of equipment. If one comes into contact with other surface materials or something else in the air, it can contaminate the results. Some examples include alcohol from cleaning agents or acetone from paint. An officer is supposed to take an “air blank” test first to prevent this, but this may not always happen.

Speak with Your DUI Attorney About Possible Defenses

Even if you tested above the legal limits when given a breath test, it’s possible that there was a mistake. A false positive on a DUI test is just one defense that your DUI attorney can explore when building your defense.

At Darley Law, LLC, complex Alabama DUI cases is one of our major areas of focus. Our goal is to protect your rights and minimize any penalties that you might face due to these charges. Contact our Mobile office now at (251) 441-7772 to schedule your initial consultation.

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