Bringing order to chaos since 1996

Are there medical reasons that a sober person may fail a breath test?

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2024 | DUI

People who are accused of impaired driving often have questions about their charges. Although many rush to plead guilty to avoid the perceived embarrassment of court, others want to prove their innocence. Especially when someone knows they hadn’t had anything to drink before the incident, they may question the assertion that they were over the legal limit. Sometimes, people agree to perform breath tests and end up flabbergasted by the results.

Those who fail breath tests sometimes worry that they have no option but to plead guilty to their pending drunk driving charges. In some cases where breath test results are obviously wrong, there could potentially be a medical explanation for why someone has failed. For example, the following medical concerns might lead to test accuracy issues.

Blood sugar or dietary issues

Someone with unmanaged diabetes or possibly undiagnosed diabetes could experience ketoacidosis in response to their diet. This chemical process can lead to the body producing acetone and excreting it through the lungs. Some people intentionally put themselves in a state of ketoacidosis to address medical issues or lose body fat. Individuals with blood sugar issues and those adhering to the strict keto diet may find that breath test results are inaccurate in their cases because of the chemical processes occurring in their bodies.

Certain prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs

There are certain medications, both available at the pharmacy over the counter and via a prescription from a physician, that can alter the accuracy of a breath test. Some people fail tests due to taking cough or cold medicine that may have alcohol in it. For others, it might be asthma inhalers that trigger a false positive on a breath test. Even certain hygiene products, like breath spray, can artificially affect the results of a breath test. There are other, less-common medical issues that could also affect breast test results. For example, someone might have auto-brewery syndrome.

When there isn’t a medical explanation, there could be an issue with a testing unit or its calibration that could have produced inaccurate breath test results. Looking at possible medical explanations could help people choose the best way to respond to drunk driving charges. Those aware of what could compromise the integrity of state evidence may have an easier time proving their innocence accordingly.

From offices in Augusta-Richmond County we serve clients in neighboring communities including Grovetown, Thomson, Waynesboro, Harlem, Lincolnton, and Wrens. Beyond Augusta we handle cases in Columbia County, Burke County, McDuffie County, Lincoln County and Wilkes County. We also proud to represent military families and veterans from Fort Gordon, Hunter Army Airfield, Fort Stewart, Fort Benning, Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem.