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Breath-testing equipment could be influenced by low-carb diets

On Behalf of | May 8, 2019 | Criminal Defense

Diets that are extremely low in carbohydrates have become an extremely popular weight loss option in Georgia and around the country in recent years. They work by forcing the body to deplete its glucose stores so that energy is provided by burning fat directly. This metabolic condition is known as ketosis, and some experts say that it can influence breath test results. The claim has been made because the liver produces acetone when it burns fat and isopropyl alcohol is a byproduct of this process.

According to scientists, isopropyl alcohol could fool the portable breath-testing devices used by police officers in the field but not the more sophisticated infrared spectroscopy technology found in police stations. This is why drunk driving suspects are almost always taken to a law enforcement facility for more rigorous testing after failing roadside field sobriety or breath tests.

While the amount of isopropyl alcohol in the breath of individuals on even strict ketogenic diets is unlikely to lead to blood alcohol concentration readings of .08% or higher if they have consumed no alcohol, it could make life difficult for low-carb drivers who would otherwise have been just under the legal limit. Eschewing carbohydrates could also make cars fitted with ignition interlocks inoperable because the devices are designed to prevent vehicle use when they detect even very small amounts of alcohol.

Breath-testing equipment can also provide misleading BAC readings when drivers suffer from some common medical issues like diabetes, and even infrared spectroscopy equipment could be unreliable if it is not maintained according to exacting protocols. When the drunk driving cases are based on questionable toxicology evidence, experienced criminal defense attorneys may seek to have DUI charges reduced or dismissed. Attorneys could also object to the installation of ignition interlock devices in the vehicles of individuals who have medical conditions or follow diets that could influence their operation.


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