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Keto diet may contribute to inaccurate breath test results

There probably aren't too many people in Georgia who equate going on a diet with being at an increased risk of failing a field sobriety test. However, this is exactly what could happen for some individuals on a low-carb keto or ketogenic diet. Because of the way this diet affects processes within the body, a breath test may produce false positive results.

One reason for the possibility of inaccurate breath test results is because the keto diet triggers a metabolic process known as ketosis. When this happens, a byproduct called acetone is created by the liver. Some of this organic compound is released through the breath as isopropyl alcohol, which causes some breathalyzers to produce a high blood alcohol content reading. Inexpensive devices usually aren't able to tell the difference between common types of alcohol, but police typically use fuel cell-based models capable of making this distinction.

Fuel cell breathalyzer manufacturers claim that their devices can differentiate between ethanol and isopropyl. However, there isn't much data available about the accuracy of results when both types of alcohol are mixed together, which is what happens when someone is consuming alcohol and in ketosis. In one instance, a man on a low-carb diet had difficulty starting a company vehicle fitted with a breathalyzer ignition. A paper discussing this situation notes that fuel cell breath analyzers sometimes produce false results if the body naturally converts one form of alcohol into another form.

A criminal defense lawyer may not be able to get charges dropped based solely on someone's diet habits. However, an attorney might point out known flaws with testing methods or raise doubts if police failed to do more complicated and accurate testing when the results were questionable. It may also be possible to build a DUI defense if certain medical conditions or medications could have affected BAC readings.

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