Factors Besides Alcohol that Raise Your BAC
Breath analyzers are a great form of technology that help police officers identify those who are driving drunk and in danger of hurting themselves and others. While this can be beneficial, there are also drawbacks to using a breathalyzer. One of those issues is that factors besides alcohol can cause an elevated alcohol breath concentration. This can lead to false positives or incorrect numbers, so it is important to consider the things that can skew your results.
Blood Hematocrit Levels
One factor that drivers have no control over and may not even be aware of is their blood hematocrit levels. Men have a hematocrit value of 42 to 52 percent and women have a range of 37 to 47 percent, but breath analyzers are programmed for a 47 percent value. If a person’s levels are different due to gender or other factors, the resulting Blood Alcohol Content ("BAC") will be incorrect.
Lack of Maintenance
Breathalyzers, just like any other machine, require maintenance in order to function properly. If officers fail to re calibrate their machines and keep them updated, they are more likely to give false results.
Foreign Objects in the Mouth
When there is something in the mouth that isn’t normally there, a breathalyzer has a hard time telling the difference. If the driver has vomited or has blood or alcohol in his or her mouth, it can report a false positive.
Diabetes and Dieters
A breath analyzer works by detecting ethanol, a substance found in alcoholic beverages. The molecular structure of ethanol is very similar to several other compounds, especially acetone. Diabetics can have higher levels of acetone, causing a breathalyzer to detect each compound of acetone as alcohol. Dieters also tend to have higher levels and face a similar problem. In a typical human’s breath, between 70 and 80 percent of existing compounds resemble the ethanol structure and can be mistaken for alcohol.
Another study reported that subjects registered elevated BAC levels after eating different bread products, even though they hadn’t consumed any alcohol. While the rate reported was not over the legal limit, it could be enough to push a slightly intoxicated driver over the limit or cause a driver’s level to be higher than it actually is.
There were also certain activities that caused a false positive. Painting a wall with oil-based paint or applying contact cement caused a subject who had not consumed any alcohol to register a BAC level that was 50 percent more than the legal limit. The outside temperature could also be a factor if the officer did not calibrate the device correctly. If you have been charged with a DUI, you may have received a false BAC due to the incorrect use of a breath analyzer.
For a free consultation on your DUI charge, call an experienced South Carolina DUI lawyer today at (803) 351-3597.