Posted on: 21 December 2016
The introduction of the breathalyzer technology has made it easy for police officers to quickly identify drunk drivers who are in danger of hurting themselves and other road users. Breathalyzers estimate the blood alcohol content (BAC) levels, and if they exceed the acceptable levels, one may receive DUI charges. However, there are instances when breathalyzers can give a false positive result implying that one has consumed alcohol when they haven't. Understanding these situations can help you take the legal steps to defend yourself against DUI charges if you aren't guilty.
High Hct levels
The human blood is made up of a mixture of cells that are suspended in a liquid known as plasma. Hematocrit (Hct) levels in the blood refer to the percentage of red blood cells (RBCs) in the blood. The average range of RBCs in the blood varies based on sex among other factors. Some people have more RBCs than the normal range, and this means that their hematocrit levels will be higher than expected. High Hct levels translate in lower plasma levels, and this can be a problem for drivers who consume alcohol.
When a person with high Hct levels consumes alcohol, the blood plasma that is low will be highly concentrated in alcohol. This means that even if your BAC levels are low, the breathalyzer will record a high value due to the concentration of alcohol in a small amount of plasma fluid. An accurate estimate of the BAC levels can only be obtained by analyzing a blood sample.
There are particular health complications and chronic illnesses that can give a false positive on a breathalyzer test. For instance, people with diabetes may notice that they have bad breath which resembles acetone, a compound that is commonly used in nail polish removers. Acetone contains some similar compounds with ethanol, one of the major components of alcohol. If you have diabetes, your breathalyzer may confuse the acetone breath with ethanol. Taking other forms of BAC tests is the only way to determine alcohol levels in the blood.
When you are pulled over for a breathalyzer test, the officer will ask you to breathe into the device. This device is not programmed to distinguish substances in the mouth. For instance, some types of food products such as certain bread products can indicate a false positive result even when you have not consumed any alcohol. Also, if you had thrown up, the breathalyzer can record high BAC levels if it fails to distinguish the unfamiliar breath from alcohol.
If you get charged with DUI but have consumed little or no alcohol at all, you could have received a false positive test. With knowledge of the factors that may have contributed to the result, you can push for a more advanced test to avoid facing unwarranted punishment.Share