Fact or Fiction: Diabetes Can Cause You to Fail a Breath Test?

Categories: Colorado Springs DUI Attorney

Diabetes Failed Breath Test

Defense Attorneys Fighting for Colorado Drivers who Failed a Breath Test due to Diabetes

Diabetes and hypoglycemia have been found to cause significant motor vehicle accidents and errors today. However, one area that was only recently discovered what that it could result in unjustified DWAI and DUI arrests. When a diabetic person suffers from a diabetic attack, their actions mimic that of an intoxicated motorist.

However, whether that diabetic attack mimics alcohol regarding a breathalyzer is not always as clear.

What is Diabetes?

A healthy person has a blood glucose from 70 to 120 mg/dl. When that amount rises above the 120 threshold and the body does not produce enough insulin, diabetes attacks the body. Insulin is a critical hormone secreted by the pancreas. It is what helps the body digest and keeps blood sugar levels balanced.

Equally, a person with hypoglycemia has blood sugar levels that decrease dramatically to 60 mg/dl or less.

Diabetes and the Breathalyzer Test

Breath tests cannot discern between the various types of alcohol on the breath. Therefore, they can provide a false positive when any form of alcohol is present. Some instances have been reported where a person has not drunk alcohol, but fails because of higher levels of acetone on their breath.

A person who has diabetes could have higher acetone levels on their breath. However, it is important that a person being tested for a DUI inform the officer about their diabetes status. In this case, you should request that your blood is tested as well, which would then indicate that you have diabetes and not a DUI.

Scientific Research and the False Positives for Diabetic Drivers

In the 2003 issue of the Medical and Toxicological Information Review, it was found that abnormally low levels of blood glucose were found relating to driving errors on the road, which led to being pulled over on suspicion of a DUI. However, this did not result in positive breathalyzer tests.

What You Must Know About Breathalyzer Tests

Breath tests, when you are suspected of a DUI, are not always perfect. That is why law enforcement will often use blood screening after you fail the field sobriety and breathalyzer tests.

Certain factors can affect a BAC level from a breathalyzer, but it is important that you know the facts about how these devices work – and not give in to the myths.

  • How Quickly You Consume Alcohol – The faster you drink, the faster you reach a peak BAC. The average human liver metabolizes one standard drink per hour, which means 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or a 5-ounce shot of an 80-proof spirit. If you consume more than one drink per hour, your liver will not keep pace with your drinking; therefore, you will have a higher intoxication level.
  • Body Weight – Men can dilute alcohol concentrations in their blood quicker than women, but also the extra muscle tissue in men allow them to dilute alcohol faster.
  • Food – Alcohol is absorbed in two ways. First, approximately 20 percent goes through the stomach wall directly, while the remaining 80 percent is absorbed into the blood via the small intestine. Food does not ‘absorb alcohol’ like the myths try to make you believe. Drinking on a full stomach slows alcohol absorption.
  • Certain Medications Affect Breathalyzer Tests – Certain medications can not only affect how you respond to alcohol, but also can affect BAC levels registered on the breathalyzer. For example, medications that contain alcohol, such as a cough syrup, could increase breath alcohol.

Did You Fail a Breathalyzer? Speak with an Attorney

Whether you are a diabetic or you simply feel your breathalyzer results were inaccurate, you need a lawyer by your side to argue on your behalf.

For your DUI, turn to Christian A. Schwaner, P.C. in Colorado Springs. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Schwaner knows how to negotiate with the prosecution, assess police protocols, and achieve the best possible outcome for his clients.

Schedule your consultation with him today by calling 719-577-9700 or contact him online with your questions.