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False DUI Breathalyzer Results from Foreign Substances

When you are suspected of DUI and administered a breathalyzer test, there are a multitude of substances that can affect your test results. Even if you have not been drinking alcohol, you can still be arrested if your breathalyzer test registers over the national legal limit of 0.08 percent for blood alcohol content (BAC).

When a proper defense is needed for your breathalyzer test results as part of a DUI case, it is important to get the help of a lawyer as soon as possible. Your criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong, aggressive defense against these charges.

What Causes Breathalyzers to Register Positive for BAC?

When you have not been drinking, but have a positive result for BAC during a breathalyzer test, there are several things that may have caused this “false positive.” These include asthma inhalants, administered by patients directly through a device much like a breathalyzer, called an inhaler.

An asthma inhaler is used by people with asthma to clear their airways for better breathing through delivery of medication directly to the lungs. These inhalers are widely known to result in much higher BAC percentages than even the national 0.08 percent limit. Of course, these medications are reduced within the body over time. So the breathalyzer will only register a high count if the medication is used in a certain time-frame preceding the BAC test.

Other medicine that affects BAC include Kamide, which lingers in the body for hours after ingestion. A breathalyzer will register this medication’s alcohol and others for several hours due to chemical enhancements in the drug that prolong half-life.

Paint solvents and some fumes can also cause inaccurate results. Occupational exposure can lead to an extreme level of BAC. They may also provide no BAC level, depending upon recent exposure and devices used during exposure.

Denture adhesive can lead to skewed readings for BAC. These fixatives may contain alcohol that can drive test results higher. Rubbing alcohol is another culprit in false positive readings using a breath test. A criminal defense attorney can challenge breathalyzer results in such DUI cases.

Even blood in the mouth during a breathalyzer can cause inaccuracy in the device’s BAC reading. The Department of Public Health Division of Alcohol and Substance Testing has reported that blood in breath sampling can indeed contaminate the measurement toward incorrect results. A gashed lip provided increased results for one person whose BAC content was measured, due to blood loss from that wound. Her reading was 0.14 percent. After the defense presented this as part of the case evidence, she was not guilty of a DUI.

Precedent for Foreign Substances in Breathalyzer Tests

A conviction for DUI was completed for a driver who registered BAC results over 0.10. The defendant explained that the results were marred by use of asthma inhalant before the breath test was administered. Even though the dose of this medicine does not cause intoxication, it may increase blood-alcohol levels due to the presence of alcohol in the medicine. Further, the driver is not impaired after using the inhaler. But the breathalyzer used on this individual did not differentiate between the types of alcohol. So, the medicinal alcohol registered as high BAC.

Only ethanol will result in conviction for DUI violations. This means that when other types of alcohol are in the blood, a conviction cannot be made. Non-ethanol alcohol is excluded from determination of intoxication.

Because ethanol was not in the convicted driver’s blood, the conviction was overturned. A precedent was thereby set for alcohol related to these types of cases. A State prosecutor must prove that the driver was intoxicated on ethanol to the exclusion of all other types of alcohol for conviction to stand.

Breathalyzer Stipulations

There are numerous stipulations specified through Standards for Breath Testing, in regard to foreign substances and intoxication. Breathalyzer tests must not be administered any earlier than 20 minutes after ingestion or inhalation of a foreign substance, such as asthma medicine. A foreign substance can also include any other substance not currently in the person’s body, excluding those moving in and out during normal breathing. The foreign substance must have been ingested through one of the following means:

  • Eaten
  • Chewed
  • Inhaled
  • Swallowed
  • Sniffed
  • Snorted
  • Sprayed
  • Injected
  • Otherwise applied

You Seek the Help of an Experienced DUI Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or your loved one are facing DUI charges, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney can help you build a defense based upon the precedents set in other Foreign Substance DUI breathalyzer cases. Contact DM Cantor today to speak with a law firm that have decades of experience in fighting DUI charges in Arizona.

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