Proven Representation

Photo of Jeff Meadows and Catherine Ritzmann
Photo of Jeff Meadows and Catherine Ritzmann
Photo of Jeff Meadows and Catherine Ritzmann
Proven Representation

What causes false Breathalyzer results?

On Behalf of | Nov 7, 2020 | DUI / OVI

Police in Ohio commonly administer a Breathalyzer to measure the amount of alcohol in the blood if they suspect a driver is intoxicated. The results may be used in court to convict a driver for DUI. However, the Breathalyzer does not always give accurate results for many reasons.

False readings

All states except Utah, where the limit is lower, set .08 as the legal limit for BAC. Anything above .08 can lead to a DUI charge. Breathalyzers usually have an error rate of 15% to 23%. If drivers feel that the tests are not accurate, they can fight the results in court.

Statistics have shown that the most accurate way to measure BAC is a blood test. Drivers cannot usually refuse to take Breathalyzers without penalty, but they may be able to request both methods.

Hygiene products

Some hygiene products often cause false results especially those with alcohol. These include perfumes, body sprays, toothpaste, liquid breath fresheners and after shave. Since the Breathalyzer detects alcohol fumes, it may mistake them for alcohol even reading it from products on the skin.

Foods, medications and medical conditions

Some foods that have alcohol-based ingredients may cause a false result. For example coq a vin and penne alla vodka commonly use alcohol. Yeast in baked goods ferment converting the sugar to alcohol. Other foods that may possibly impact readings include energy drinks, hot sauces, fermented sodas and ripe fruits.

Certain medical conditions raise acetone levels that could cause a false result, such as diabetes. GERD has also been known to give inaccurate readings, since it forces gas from the stomach to the throat. Some medications could increase BAC levels, such as allergy medicine, asthma medication, asthma medication, some anti-ulcer medicine and toothache gels.

A DUI/OVI charge often means jail time and court fines for drivers. A lawyer may be helpful in challenging the results of Breathalyzer tests.