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GERD Defense for DUI

You are pulled over by the police. You have not been driving fast or erratically. For some reason police suspect you of DUI (Driving Under the Influence). You are asked to take a breathalyzer test that measures the amount of alcohol in your breath.

You are arrested.

At this point, you know you did not consume alcohol to excess and you were not impaired behind the wheel.  One beer at dinner was all you consumed, so how could your blood alcohol content (BAC) show 0.15%, which is almost twice the legal limit for drunk driving?

Your DUI Defense Attorney

It will be very important for you to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer with knowledge of a DUI defense.  Not just any defense lawyer.

You do not understand the disconnect between your alcohol consumption, with a meal hours earlier, and a breathalyzer test that shows you were driving over the legal level of intoxication which is 0.08%.

Alabama DUI attorney Jason Darley may be able to explain what happened.  

GERD and Inaccurate DUI Tests

GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease and it is a form of acid reflux. If the driver suffers from GERD, that may explain why the breathalyzer is wrong.

The DUI test is designed to look for the amount of alcohol in your blood or BAC (blood alcohol content). Having GERD can actually lead to a false DUI reading if there is any alcohol in your stomach at all.  

If you think this might have happened to you, you should explore hiring a defense attorney who understands the phenomena.

Acid Reflux Impacts a Blood Alcohol Reading

Mouth alcohol is very common among people suffering from GERD or acid reflux disease. When the esophagus does not close entirely after food has passed on its way to the stomach, acid can regurgitate and back up into your esophagus.

That may be happening in the alveoli, the tiny lung air sacs in the deepest part of the lung. That is where the blood exchanges with oxygen.  The breathalyzer is designed to measure that deep lung air.

If somebody has acid reflux or GERD, breathing into a device with a long exhale pushes out the alcohol from the deep lung and can raise the DUI level artificially.

One beer, consumed with dinner just a couple hours earlier, can measure a blood alcohol content of 0.15%, which is not at all reflective of the actual amount of alcohol you consumed.

It may take an expert to explain what you tried to explain to the officer but were not believed.

GERD is Under Diagnosed

According to the Mayo Clinic, you might be experiencing GERD if you have mild acid reflux at least twice a week. GERD is treatable with over-the-counter medications. 

Some variations require stronger medications.

Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty swallowing – A burning in the chest that feels like heartburn, usually after eating
  • Chest pain
  • Regurgitation of food or sour stomach liquid
  • A sensation of a lump in your throat

Factors that may lead to GERD include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Bulging of the top of the stomach into the diaphragm also known as a hiatal hernia
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Eating certain trigger foods such a fatty or fried
  • Drinking alcohol or coffee
  • Aspirin consumption

Ironically, heavy drinking may put someone at high risk for GERD and may further damage the esophageal mucosa.  Stopping alcohol consumption may control GERD in many cases.

GERD Defense for DUI

Jason Darley understands the relationship between GERD and an inaccurate breathalyzer test. If you are suffering from GERD or acid reflux, that may be the defense we need to avoid up to one year in jail time for a first-time DUI conviction in Alabama.

As your defense lawyer, Mr. Darley may include an experienced eye, ear, and throat doctor as an expert witness in your case. He or she may be able to confirm the existence of GERD (if it is a factor in your case) and therefore explain the inaccurate DUI test result.

If you have had a high reading on a breathalyzer test and you know you had not consumed alcohol to excess, there may be something wrong with the test. Please contact Mr. Darley for an initial consultation so we can explore your legal options during this difficult time.

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