Could a Medical Condition Cause Your DUI/DWI?

Could a Medical Condition Cause Your DUIDWIMany people seem to believe that breathalyzer tests are infallible. This leads people to believe that anyone who is facing a driving under the influence (DUI) charge must be guilty. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, breathalyzers can and do produce false positives at times for a wide range of reasons. In some cases the unit is malfunctioning, or the test was not properly administered. In many cases, a medical condition results in a false positive.


Auto-brewery syndrome is a rare metabolic disorder where bacteria living in your body create alcohol. For people with this condition, it is possible for food they eat to be processed into ethanol in their digestive tract. These individuals end up testing positive for being under the influence of alcohol without ever taking a sip. While the condition is rare, it can lead to a charge of impaired driving.


It is more common for people with untreated diabetes to fail a breathalyzer test. When someone has diabetes that is untreated, their body can be pushed into a condition known as ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis occurs when your body does not have enough insulin to process the sugar in your bloodstream. The body then starts using body fat as fuel. A side effect of ketoacidosis is the production of acetone which can be present in the breath. Acetone is not intoxicating, but it can result in a false positive on a breathalyzer because it is chemically similar to alcohol. Untreated diabetes can also cause someone to be unsteady or have slurred speech which can also lead to the assumption that someone is driving under the influence of alcohol.


Gastroesophageal-reflux Disease (GERD) can also lead to a false breathalyzer test. GERD occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the esophagus. The effect of GERD is not the only discomfort for the sufferer but an increase in alcohol in the mouth. When a GERD sufferer provides a breath sample for a breathalyzer test, the air is coming from the mouth as well as deep in the lungs. If GERD has caused alcohol to leak into the mouth, the result could be a false positive.


If you’ve been arrested for a DUI or DWI, you need the help of an experienced Maryland criminal attorney. The attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LLC, will work hard to get you the best possible outcome. Contact us online or call us at 301-321-7277 for a free consultation.

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