Keto Diet and Breathalyzer Test (What you need to know)

DWI in Texas

A few weeks back, we explored DUI & DWI in Texas. Today, we ask you; have you heard of being arrested for DWI after a breathalyzer test when you are not drunk? Well, it happens. You may be on the Keto diet.

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You may have alcohol on your breath after you eat a food with a high alcohol content such as a candy or chocolate, vinegar, or medication. This may cause you to have an elevated score on a breath test. 

This can also happen when you are on the keto diet. The keto diet, and other low carbohydrate diets such as the carnivore diet, paleo, Atkins 40 and Ketovore, can cause your body to produce a lot of alcohol. 

Why does the Keto diet cause a positive breathalyzer test?

Keto Diet and the breathalyzer test
Image by Jenna Hamra

On the Keto diet, you eat high-fat foods and severely limit your carbohydrate intake. The result of such a diet is a ketosis state, where the body turns fat to energy and releases acetone. Acetone, is released in your breath as isopropyl alcohol. 

When you are in a state of ketosis, and will most likely test positive if subjected to a BAC breathalyzer test.  

Regular vs  Fuel Cell Breathalyzers Tests

Regular breathalyzer machines use semiconductor technology to check for alcohol on one’s breath by measuring the number of molecules containing alcohol. There is a big question, however, whether these machines can differentiate between ethanol alcohol molecules and other types of alcohol such as isopropyl.

However, when the police suspect you of DUI, they measure you with their fuel cell breathalyzer machines. There is a controversy on whether these machines can differentiate between isopropyl and ethanol when someone on the Keto diet is tested after drinking alcohol. 

Manufacturers of fuel cell breathalyzer machines claim they measure alcohol levels accurately. They claim their devices are ethanol-specific; therefore, they should not flag isopropyl alcohol as ethanol alcohol in the breath of a person being tested. 

The good thing is that the breathalyzer tests in most states, including Texas, are only preliminary, and are not used in court.

The breathalyzer tests are only used during your initial arrest process, after which you will be subjected to another test at the police station.

The second test uses an infrared spectroscopy machine, that can differentiate between ethanol and isopropyl alcohol. You also have the option of having a blood test, at your expense, for accurate results.

What to expect when suspected of drunk driving

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When you are stopped by the police under suspicion of driving while intoxicated, you will be asked for your;

  • Proof of insurance
  • driver’s license
  • Vehicle registration

You may also be asked to take a blood or breath alcohol concentration test. Should you refuse to take the breathalyzer test (which is your right), your license could automatically be suspended for 180 days.

If you use your right to refuse a breathalyzer test twice in ten years, you could get your license suspended for two years.

These are all unnecessary problems. The best thing would be to avoid driving under the influence. If you find that you cannot avoid drinking and driving, you should keep your blood alcohol levels low.

What is an ignition interlock device?

An ignition interlock device prevents the vehicle from starting if you have alcohol on your breath. Many people with DUIs have ignition interlock devices fitted in their cars.  

According to research, ignition switch machines cannot differentiate between isopropyl alcohol molecules and ethanol alcohol molecules. Ignition devices also have low accuracy ratings for many reasons outlined here

For someone on the Keto diet whose breath emits some isopropyl alcohol, inaccurate test results can be a problem when confronted by the police. Others like diabetics who produce ketones in their bodies due to their diet may also experience the same problem. 

In 2006, Dr Alan Jones did a research paper on ignition interlock devices. He looked at the case of a man who was on a low carb diet. He could not start his car, that was fitted with an ignition lock device.

Dr. Jones recommends that if you get false-positive results while on the Keto diet, you should state your case to the authorities instead of pleading guilty.

Have you tested positive on the breathalyzer while on the Keto diet?

Driving while intoxicated in Texas can cause you many problems. For example;

  • You may get huge fines and lose your license for a long period. You will also have legal fees and court costs to contend with.   
  • A DWI conviction results in a criminal record. This makes it more difficult for you to get a job, rent an apartment, or apply for car insurance.
  • You may go to jail.

If you are convicted of a DWI because you are on the Keto diet, you would, therefore, experience a lot of difficulties, even though you are innocent.

For example, Andre Riley, a flight attendant on American Airlines, was fired from his job for failing a breathalyzer test. Andre was accused of drinking on the job. He insisted that the positive results ( .05) from his breathalyzer tests were due to him being on the Keto diet.

You may ask, how can being on the Keto diet cause your breathalyzer test results to go over .08?

Well, in most cases, being in a ketosis state alone is not enough to result in false-positive results on a breathalyzer test. However, if you drink a small amount while on the Keto diet, your blood alcohol content will easily hit 0.08%.

Some medical conditions, such as Diabetes, can cause our bodies to release stomach alcohol. This can also result in false-positive results.

Fasting can also release high levels of ketones and, if tested, may register false-positive results.

All these circumstances may seem trivial, but this can have very serious consequences. You will be charged and convicted of a DWI due to your false-positive result.

Can a lawyer help?

You may have undergone a breathalyzer test and you think the results were inaccurate. This may be due to the way the test was administered, you were on a low carb diet, or any of the other above reasons. You will need an experienced DUI attorney in Denton Texas to help you challenge the results.

If you are dealing with a DWI conviction or charges, a lawyer can also get your sentence reduced or your charges dismissed. Call us today on 972-325-1758 and we will plan your defense.

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