What were you doing before that breath test said you were drunk?

Did you know that not everyone who fails a breath test does so because of drinking alcohol? Your activities prior to an officer pulling you over could have a profound effect on the outcome of a breath test. That’s because of a distinct flaw in the machines designed to measure the amount of alcohol in your system.

Breath-testing machines indirectly estimate your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. It’s true that they detect ethyl alcohol, but breath-testing machines also detect numerous other compounds with the same chemical makeup. Some machines are better than others are, but you never know what machine you will get.

Let’s look at some of those other substances

If you suffer from diabetes or are on a diet, your body may produce a large amount of acetone. This substance could increase your BAC reading if you take a breath test on some machines. If you eat certain types of bread products, some machines will register your BAC as .05, according to one investigator. However, it’s not only substances that you ingest or that your body produces that can send your BAC skyrocketing.

If you are like other Illinois residents and enjoy DIY home projects or otherwise working with your hands, you may use substances like contact cement and oil based paint within about an hour, you could find yourself blowing a .12 during a breath test even though you didn’t have a drop of alcohol. That’s well above the legal limit of .08. Other compounds that could produce similar results include the following:

  • Gasoline
  • Paint removers
  • Lacquers
  • Celluloid
  • Cleaning products

In addition, since breath-testing machines are just that, machines, they can also be affected by electronic interference from police radios and cell phones. Even moisture, dirt and tobacco smoke can affect the results of a breath test.

Challenging a breath test

The possibility of ending up in the back seat of a police car because you were painting may seem farfetched, but it can happen. As you can see, results like these are why so many people recommend challenging the breath test. Of course, this is just one aspect of a DUI charge that you can challenge. Reviewing the totality of the situation could reveal other aspects of your case that require questioning.

Knowing what questions to ask presents an issue for many people. This is why they often turn to experienced legal resources in their communities for help.