How Can Diabetes Affect Breath Alcohol Tests?

One major problem with breath alcohol testing devices is that they can result in false test results in diabetics that lead to OVI charges. 

There is a fundamental problem with the way breath alcohol devices work – they don’t directly measure ethanol alcohol, the kind of alcohol found in beer, wine, and other spirits.  Rather, these devices send infrared beams through a sample of the person’s breath and measure, using a very specific infrared wavelength, how much of the infrared beam is absorbed by the sample.  The device assumes that only ethanol alcohol is absorbing the infrared beam at that wavelength.  The problem is that ethanol is not the only substance found in the human body that absorbs the infrared beams used in breath testing devices.

Why is this concerning for diabetics?  When a diabetic’s body is experiencing low blood sugar, their body begins producing excess acetone.  This excess acetone will then be misinterpreted by a breath alcohol device producing a false breath test result.  Combine this false test result with the physical symptoms of a diabetic person experiencing low blood sugar, such as fatigue, lethargy, and general sluggishness, and many law enforcement officers will conclude that this is all due to drinking.  The physical symptoms exhibited by a diabetic with low blood sugar combined with a failing breath alcohol test due to their body producing excess isopropyl alcohol will lead to an arrest, charge, and possibly a conviction for OVI. 

If you’re a diabetic who’s been charged with DUI in Columbus, you need an Experienced DUI Lawyer on your side.

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