Prosecutors in Minnesota and around the country usually rely on breath-test results to establish intoxication in drunk driving cases. While the equipment used to perform these tests is sophisticated and quite accurate, it may produce misleading blood alcohol concentration readings in certain situations. Criminal defense attorneys could argue that breath-test results should be questioned if DUI suspects suffer from certain medical conditions or consumed foods or used products that contain alcohol.
Medical conditions that can influence BAC readings
Diabetes and gastroesophageal reflux disease are the medical conditions most commonly linked to elevated BAC readings. Diabetics who take breath tests may seem more intoxicated than they really are because acetone levels in the breath rise when blood sugar levels fall. Individuals who suffer from GERD could fail a breath test because the condition increases the amount of methane in breath samples by forcing stomach gasses up the throat and into the mouth.
Foods and products that contain alcohol
Foods like rum cakes, wine sauces and even bread and products such as perfumes, mouthwashes, toothpastes and over-the-counter medications, sometimes, contain alcohol. This is why it is not a good idea to use mouthwash to conceal the smell of alcohol before taking a breath test. Some of the breath-testing equipment used by police departments is so sensitive that it can even be influenced by trace amounts of alcohol in fragrances or body sprays.
Other reasons to challenge breath-test results
Experienced criminal defense attorneys could also challenge BAC evidence if the equipment used to test breath samples was not properly maintained and recalibrated on a regular basis. This is why attorneys may seek to obtain equipment service records in drunk driving cases. Attorneys could also seek to have toxicology evidence excluded and DUI charges dismissed if the police officers who conducted breath tests failed to follow strict procedures.