It is against the law for drivers in California to get behind the wheel when they have had too much alcohol. State law prohibits driving when someone knows chemicals have impaired their ability and when someone has an elevated blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
Chemical breath tests often play a crucial role in the state’s efforts to put together a driving under the influence (DUI) case that a prosecutor can win. Many people assume that they can drink responsibly and avoid DUI charges, but some people end up arrested even when they think they should be safe to drive. Ultimately, someone’s health, diet or hygiene practices could increase their chances of a DUI arrest.
Breath tests can produce false positives
People often assume that chemical breath tests are incredibly accurate and reliable, but that simply is not the case. False positive results are a common issue. A variety of personal circumstances might result in someone failing a breath test despite having had very little or nothing to drink at all.
Uncontrolled diabetes could result in a false positive reading on a breath test or an elevated BAC reading when someone has only had a single drink. Some medical professionals even recommend the use of a breathalyzer test to detect signs of blood sugar irregularities among those with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Dietary issues could trigger false positives for the same reason. Those who maintain a keto or Paleo diet to force their bodies to burn fat may have acetone on their breath which could trigger a false positive. There are a few other health conditions, including relatively rare disorders, that could also cause false positive results on a breath test.
Certain prescription medications and over-the-counter remedies could alter the accuracy of a breath test. Specific types of inhalers and medications that include alcohol, especially when taken shortly before driving, could lead to unreliable breath test results. Finally, certain hygiene habits, including using a breath spray or a mouthwash could temporarily elevate someone’s reading on a breath test and lead to criminal charges when they were not actually under the influence.
People who understand that failing a breath test doesn’t guarantee a conviction may feel more confident about fighting DUI charges. Learning more about why false positives may occur can give people a better idea of the defense strategies that are potentially available to them.