Is that diet you are on causing false breathalyzer readings?

Posted by Craig Penrod | Feb 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

As you know, breath testing equipment used to investigate cases of driving under the influence (DUI) does not measure the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in your system. Breathalyzers actually measure the presence of the methyl group in chemical compounds within your body. One of those compounds, ethanol, when detected by the breath testing machine simply assumes that the detected compound is ethyl alcohol.

In Tempe, Phoenix or other communities in Maricopa County, it is important that you consult experienced Arizona DUI lawyers like those associated with the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C.

There are thousands of compounds containing the methyl group of which over 100 have been found when testing a sample of human breath.  The simple act of breathing gasoline or paint fumes or merely absorbing those fumes through the skin, has the potential to create false breath test results for days afterwards. And, the problem can be particularly acute when the suspect happens to be a diabetic, as diabetics often have high levels of acetone within their breath‚ a compound which contains molecules from the methyl group.

Diabetics are not the only ones who can have high levels of acetone detected within their breath. Acetone can exist in perfectly normal individuals at  levels sufficient to cause false high breath-alcohol test readings. Fasting or radical dieting can also be the cause elevated sufficient levels of acetone to produce breathalyzer readings of 0.06 percent, just below the 0.08 percent standard for intoxication. And, low-carbohydrate diets have long been associated with the production of high levels of acetone.

For many years, law enforcement officers and their agencies have denied that false readings could happen due to acetone. They also denied that mouth alcohol and radio frequency interference (RFI) could caused false test results. Denials lasted until the manufacturers of breath testing machines added acetone detectors, mouth alcohol detectors and RFI detectors to their products. None of these detectors have proven to be reliable.

Are breathalyzers "close enough for government work?" Or, is a better, more reliable method needed. Law enforcement officers are allowed to draw blood from suspects at the scene of their arrest the state of Arizona as long as those officers have training and certification. There are issues and questions about an involved process involving officers using hypodermic needles, preservatives, anticoagulants, refrigeration and delayed laboratory analysis.

The vast majority of law enforcement officers who refer to themselves as phlebotomists are not graduates of a phlebotomy program and certainly cannot be considered medical personnel. While these officers claim to be trained phlebotomists, the officers will be the first to admit that they merely have a certificate of completion in a program where they were taught something called venipuncture.

Under the laws of the state of Arizona, anyone is allowed to draw blood, thus law enforcement agencies across the state have taken full advantage of this situation. It's clear that most officers who claim to be qualified to draw blood previously attended a short course, which provided only two days of classroom instruction regarding the limited skill of venipuncture. After completing the venipuncture course, most officers are not provided oversight or are they evaluated in order to assure that they are maintaining their skills and applying them appropriately.

It is important that your DUI legal situation should be handled by expert professionals with the experience possessed by the attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C. Our office offers free consultations for all DUI and criminal matters. Our Arizona DUI attorneys and Arizona criminal lawyers can provide you with the experience and knowledge needed for qualified representation. An experienced Arizona DUI lawyer is vital in DUI cases and our DUI attorneys set that standard. If you're in need of a criminal defense, our Arizona criminal attorneys are ready to assist you.

About the Author

Craig Penrod

Craig W. Penrod was born and raised in Arizona and has practiced criminal defense for over 30 years. Mr. Penrod is a member of the State Bar of Arizona, Maricopa County Bar Association, State of Nevada Bar Association, American Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, Nevada Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.


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