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Factors that impact the accuracy of a breath test

Drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol may be asked to take a breath test. If you should find yourself in this position, you may try to explain to the police officer who stopped you that you have not been drinking. However, the results of breathalyzer testing may show that you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. In the state of Ohio, this is sufficient for you to be charged with Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI).

How the breath test works

The purpose of a breathalyzer, which is a small, lightweight piece of equipment, is to test deep lung air. The person who is under suspicion of drunk driving is required to blow into it continuously for more than five seconds in order for the breathalyzer to get a reading. The device uses a ratio in converting the alcohol in a person's breath to blood alcohol, but because no two people are alike, the ratio can vary. The result can mean the difference between someone passing the test or being accused of drunk driving. In addition, this kind of test is not always accurate because certain medical conditions can affect the outcome.

Here are a three conditions that can skew a breathalyzer test:

1. Asthma inhalers and alcohol

If you suffer from asthma, you probably use an inhaler that opens airways by emitting mist into your lungs. The mist contains a certain amount of alcohol, which remains in the lung lining. If you take a breath test, the alcohol will be exhaled into the breathalyzer, possibly resulting in a high reading.

2. Acid reflux 

Your BAC reading could also be high if you are troubled by acid reflux. This condition is caused when the valve that separates your stomach from your esophagus does not close completely. If you belch, liquids and gases containing alcohol levels rise up to enter your throat and mouth before heading back to your stomach. Once again, the alcohol will be exhaled into a breathalyzer and the BAC reading may be high.

3. Diabetes 

If you are a diabetic, you are undoubtedly aware that low blood sugar can cause you to appear intoxicated. You might slur your speech, seem disoriented or exhibit poor motor control. On the other hand, high blood sugar can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, and this will produce acetones in your breath. A breathalyzer would mistakenly read these acetones as alcohol, and the results might be high enough to warrant a charge of OVI.

Keep medical records handy

If you have a health issue that may lead to inaccuracies in the event you are asked to take a breath test, it would be wise for you to have medical records on hand that would attest to your condition. You can also depend on the support of an attorney experienced with OVI and DUI charges who will uphold your rights and provide you with a strong defense.

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