Chemical breath testing helps build evidence for a drunk driving case. However, despite what the police and prosecutors might want you to think, chemical testing isn’t perfect. Mistakes can and do happen more frequently than you might imagine.
Not only is it possible for the device to have issues but the officer performing the test could make a mistake. Additionally, people doing the test at the request of a police officer could have specific health or medical factors that lead to a failed test even if they are sober. The three medical issues below could easily lead to a failed breath test.
- Undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes
When your body has trouble digesting sugar, your body can enter a state known as ketoacidosis. One of the side effects of the biological processes involved in ketoacidosis is the production of acetone. Acetone is in the same chemical compound family as alcohol, which means that someone could exhale while having blood sugar issues and fail a breath test even if they never had a single drink.
- Unusual or strict dietary practices
There are certain dietary restrictions or specialty diets that could potentially cause a false positive on a breath test. The paleo diet is an example. It is one of many diets that fall into the so-called “keto” category. These diets intentionally push your body into a state of ketoacidosis, meaning the potential is there for a failed breath test for the same reason as with diabetics.
- Asthma bad enough to require certain inhalers
Asthma can be a stressful and inconvenient medical condition. Some people can manage their asthma with emergency inhalers, while other people may require daily treatments for adequate respiration. There are certain kinds of inhalers that could affect the accuracy of a breath test and lead to a false positive for someone who has not had anything to drink.
These are just three common examples of medical explanations for a failed breath test. There are plenty of others, such as the rare and unusual auto-brewery syndrome. Looking at the results of the tests and your medical history can give you a better idea of your defense options after an impaired driving arrest.