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Can the Keto Diet Cause a False Positive Breathalyzer Test?

Posted on in Driving Under the Influence

Stamford, CT DUI lawyerMore than one million people are arrested each year for drunk driving. The majority of DUI arrests occur because the driver submits to, and fails, a breathalyzer test. But statistics show that the machines used to administer these tests are often unreliable. False positives occur frequently and thousands of breathalyzer test results are thrown out each year by judges across the country.

There are a variety of reasons why false positives occur, including faulty equipment and operator error. There is also another cause for false positives that many people are unaware of that has to do with the type of diet the person taking the test eats. In fact, one popular diet – the keto diet – can actually create false positives on breathalyzer tests.

Keto Diet Issues

When a person eats according to a keto diet, their body goes into a state in which the body becomes more efficient at burning fat for energy. This process is referred to as “ketosis,” and occurs when someone eats only low-carbohydrate foods that include berries, nuts, fatty fish, lean meats, and fresh greens. If the individual is following a keto diet, their body produces an elevated level of ketones.

Ketones have a chemical compound that is very similar to isopropyl alcohol. So someone that is following the keto diet not only has an elevated ketone level, but they also could have a high level of ketone alcohol. Some breathalyzer devices do not recognize different types of alcohol, which could cause the device to register a false positive result. 

Ethyl alcohol is the alcohol that is produced when a person is intoxicated, but with a device that does not distinguish between alcohol types, the elevated alcohol from ketosis will cause a reading of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is over the legal limit.

And it is not just the keto diet that can cause elevated levels of ketones and isopropyl alcohol. This can also happen if someone is diabetic, bulimic, or anorexic, or is on the Atkins, Paleo, South Beach, or other high protein/low carb diet.

Some people can even suffer from “ketosis breath,” the smell of alcohol on their breath, just like a person who is actually drunk.

Contact a Stamford, CT Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with drunk driving, there are options for legitimate defenses, depending on the circumstances of your case. The skilled Fairfield County DUI lawyer from the Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner can evaluate your case and determine what legal options you may have. Do not delay in calling 203-348-5846 to schedule a free consultation. The sooner you call, the sooner we can begin working on your defense and a more positive outcome.

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/03/business/drunk-driving-breathalyzer.html

https://www.menshealth.com/health/a26063314/ketosis-breathalyzer-alcohol-false-positive-low-carb/