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Hypoglycemic? Things you should know about Breathalyzer tests

On Behalf of | Jul 12, 2018 | Firm News |

If a police officer pulls you over in traffic, you can bet he or she is going to claim to have had reasonable cause to do so. Whether that means you’re tail light was not functioning or the officer allegedly caught you on a radar gun traveling at speeds that exceeded the posted limits in the area, the end result of the traffic stop may be a mere warning, a written citation or worse.

The latter may include many different issues, such as the officer asking you to exit your vehicle, which typically means he or she suspects you of drunk driving or some other impairment. At this point, it’s critical that you clearly understand your rights and know where to seek support to help protect them. As the situation unfolds, the officer may ask you to take a breath test. Do you know that if you’re hypoglycemic, the results of your test may mistakenly register positive for alcohol on your breath?

Blood samples needed for true measurements

If police arrest you on suspicion of drunk driving and ask you to take a Breathalyzer test, it’s not a foolproof means of determining the blood alcohol content level in your bloodstream. In fact, the only true way to measure BAC is to test a blood sample. However, many investigators use Breathalyzer tests as a less invasive means of checking BAC.

Acetone risks

When you’re hypoglycemic, you may have high levels of acetone in your breath. A Breathalyzer test may falsely interpret this as alcohol. You’ll want to be aware of this if a law enforcement officer asks you to take such a test and you know you are diabetic, as diabetes is a common cause of hypoglycemia. Then again, more than 23 million people in the United States have diabetes but approximately 5 million or more are not aware of their conditions.

Other conditions that cause hypoglycemia

Perhaps you are certain that you are not diabetic. That doesn’t necessarily mean you do not suffer from hypoglycemia as many other issues can cause it as well. For instance, you may have a kidney, liver or heart problem. If you take aspirin, pseudo ephedrine or sulfa medications, you may be hypoglycemic at times. Even something as seemingly benign as drinking diet soda or suffering from moderate levels of anxiety or fright can cause hypoglycemia. Strenuous exercise or other physical exertion can too.

Do you fast?

If you use fasting as a means of spiritual enrichment or a tool to control your diet, you’re at risk for hypoglycemia. In fact, fasting can produce false positive alcohol results on a Breathalyzer test due to hypoglycemia that register as high as .06. Thus, you may be a person who completely abstains from alcohol and still wind up facing drunk driving charges in a Louisiana court.

What to do if that happens

A key to avoiding conviction in such situations is to show evidence that your health condition can produce false results on a Breathalyzer test. If you believe the results of your test are inaccurate, you can challenge the admissibility of those results as evidence that prosecutors may try to use against you. The good news is that you don’t have it to go it alone in court because there are strong support networks in place to help you protect your rights.