A DUI Lawyer Explains How Medical Conditions Can Trip Up Breathalyzers

A DUI conviction is no small matter. Not only will you pay hefty fines, but you also face the risk of serving jail time. Moreover, such a conviction can also tarnish your reputation and can also limit your job prospects, especially if your employment requires a professional driver’s license.

Unfortunately, not everyone who gets charged with a DUI conviction deserves it, as a trusted DUI lawyer in Rancho Cordova will tell you. A huge part of this is because certain medical conditions can trip up breathalyzers, one of the most common instruments used to determine if a driver is intoxicated. What are these conditions that can turn up a false positive?


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), people with diabetes tend to have acetone levels that are hundreds if not thousands of times higher than the normal range. The problem is, acetone registers as ethyl alcohol on a breathalyzer, which cannot distinguish between the two.


GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease causes the contents of one’s stomach to travel back up the esophagus. This may include any undigested alcohol, which can contaminate your breath and register as blood alcohol on a breathalyzer. In fact, even burping can cause a breathalyzer to give a positive result.


Did you know that asthma inhalers contain alcohol? In fact, about a third of the mist you spritz into your mouth is made of alcohol. Unfortunately, that alcohol is not absorbed into the blood but rather sticks onto the lining of your lungs. As such, breathing into a breathalyzer will expel some of that alcohol into your breath and cause a positive reading.

Liver or Kidney Disease

The liver and kidneys function as the body’s filter, removing toxins from the blood to purify it. Sadly, if these organs are not functioning properly, ammonia can build up in the body, and this gas can also trip up breathalyzer tests. As such, people with this disease are at a higher risk of being falsely accused of DUI.

If you have any of these conditions and have been arrested for drunk driving you really need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Rancho Cordova who can handle your DUI case and explore whether your medical condition has rendered the breathalyzer results invalid. Taking into consideration all of your personal situation is critical in developing the best legal strategy.