Keto diet and the breathalyzer tests

DWI in Texas

A few weeks back, we explored DUI & DWI in Texas but have you heard of people being arrested for DWI after a breathalyzer test when they are not drunk? Well, it happens.

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One reason for alcohol on your breath could be ingesting something with a high alcohol content such as a candy or chocolate, vinegar, or medication that may cause you to have an elevated score on a breath test. 

This can also happen when you are on a diet that may cause your body to produce a lot of alcohol, such as the Keto diet. 

Why does the Keto diet cause a positive breathalyzer test?

Keto Diet and the breathalyzer test
Image by Jenna Hamra

People on the Keto diet eat high-fat foods and severely limit their 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 the breath as isopropyl alcohol. 

When you are in a state of ketosis, and you’re subjected to a breathalyzer test, it may result in a positive BAC reading. 

Regular vs  Fuel Cell Breathalyzers

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. They are only used in the arrest process, after which the suspect is subjected to another test at the police station using an infrared spectroscopy machine that can differentiate between ethanol and isopropyl alcohol. There is also the option of having a blood test at one’s expense for accurate results.

What to expect when you are stopped by the police for drunk driving?

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If you are stopped by 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. If 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, a research paper on the subject was done by Dr. Alan Jones, in which he looked at the case of a man who was struggling to start a car fitted with an ignition lock because he was on a low carb diet. The researcher recommended that people who get false-positive results after random breathalyzer tests due to the Keto diet state their case to the authorities instead of pleading guilty.

Have you been charged with a DWI 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. If you are taken to court, you will also have legal fees and court costs to contend with.   
  • A DWI conviction results in a criminal record that makes it more difficult to get a job, rent an apartment, or apply for car insurance. You may also get jailed for a long time. 

If you are convicted of a DWI because you are on the Keto diet, you would, therefore, go through many unnecessary problems. There are some cases where people have experienced such situations.

For example, there is the case of Andre Riley, a flight attendant on American Airlines who was fired from his job for failing a breathalyzer test. Andre was accused of drinking on the flight, but 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 when on the Keto diet alone is not enough to result in false-positive results on a breathalyzer test. However, if someone on the Keto diet drinks a small amount of alcohol, that easily causes the blood alcohol content to hit 0.08%.

Some medical conditions, such as Diabetes that cause our bodies to release stomach alcohol, can also result in false-positive results. People who have been fasting can also release high levels of ketones and, if tested, may register false-positive results.

All these may seem trivial, but it gets serious when due to such false-positive results, one is charged with a DWI.

Can a lawyer help?

If you’ve undergone a breathalyzer test and you think the results were inaccurate, either due to the way they were administered or because you were on the Keto diet, or any of the other above reasons, a qualified DUI attorney in Denton Texas can 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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