California DUI defense: Causes of false positive breath tests

By now, most California residents understand the consequences of DUI charges. A DUI conviction typically results in significant hardships and penalties. You could lose your driving privileges for months or even years and may have to install an ignition interlock device at your own expense. In some cases, an arrest without a conviction could even affect your employment.

Unfortunately, you cannot always avoid an arrest if a breath test returns a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The good news is that you can defend yourself against conviction, especially when you were sober when the police pulled you over.

Breathalyzers and similar tools help law enforcement officers keep the roads as safe as possible from dangerous motorists and DUI accidents, but they are not 100% accurate. The device may not have been properly maintained. There are also other ways a false positive breath test might occur – including having certain substances on your breath or in your system. These include:

  • Cold, allergy and flu medicines as well as cough drops or syrup
  • Sugar-free mints and chewing gum
  • Some fermented foods and beverages
  • Foods prepared with alcohol or liqueur

So can some prescription drugs and asthma inhalers. Certain medical conditions may also cause false positive breath tests and can lead to a DUI arrest. For example, people with diabetes often have high levels of acetone in their breath. Although it is rare, acetone in the breath can make breath tests inaccurate.

An experienced DUI attorney can provide you with valuable assistance. They can do a full investigation into the details of your arrest and can also challenge the results of any sobriety tests the police conducted.