Can a DUI Test Result in a False Positive?
Feb. 15, 2023
Driving under the influence – or DUI – is one of the most common crimes in Florida and across the United States. According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, there were more than 32,000 arrests for DUI across the Sunshine State in 2019 alone.
However, many of these DUI arrests are not valid because it often happens that breathalyzers and other tests produce a false positive result. If you were arrested for drunk driving and suspect that it was due to an inaccurate DUI test, you might want to explore your options for contesting a false positive.
Contact Ruhl & Lux, P.A. as soon as possible to discuss your situation with experienced DUI defense attorneys in Port Charlotte, Florida. The law firm also serves individuals facing DUI and other criminal charges in Sarasota, Fort Myers, and the rest of the state.
False Positives for DUI Tests
A false positive is an inaccurate result from a breathalyzer or other test that indicates that you have alcohol in your system when, in fact, you do not. It is possible for a breathalyzer to give a false positive for several reasons — most often due to faulty equipment or user error by the administering officer. This could mean that the machine was calibrated incorrectly or that it had been recently serviced but not correctly maintained.
If there are any errors made in the administration of the test, then this could also lead to incorrect results. If you believe you have received a false positive on your DUI test, it’s important to discuss this with your attorney as soon as possible so that they can investigate further.
Possible Reasons for a False Positive
If you are facing a DUI charge, it’s important to understand how false positives can occur and what potential defense strategies you may have available. Below are some of the possible causes of false positives in DUI tests.
Improper calibration of equipment. Breathalyzers and other field sobriety test equipment must be calibrated correctly to ensure accurate results at all times. If the test was administered using uncalibrated or malfunctioning equipment, your attorney might be able to challenge the results in court. This can be an effective strategy for winning your case if there is a lack of reliable evidence against you.
Medical conditions or medication. Certain medical conditions and medications can cause elevated levels of alcohol in your system even if you haven’t been drinking. Seizure medications, diabetes medications, asthma inhalers, and antacids are just some examples that can trigger false positives on DUI tests. Your lawyer can help you establish this as a defense if applicable to your situation.
Blood alcohol rising. The level of alcohol in your bloodstream may continue to rise after drinking has stopped due to delayed absorption from food or other substances already present in your stomach. This means that even if you passed a breathalyzer test at the time of arrest, the alcohol level in your blood could have risen by the time it was tested at the police station or hospital - resulting in a false positive result.
Administering the test too early. There is usually a window between 20 minutes and two hours after drinking stops when levels of alcohol appear higher than they actually are due to residual mouth alcohol still present from drinking beverages with high sugar content, such as beer and wine coolers. If this window has not yet passed before administering field sobriety tests or breathalyzers, then you may receive false positive results — especially if testing equipment is not calibrated correctly.
Mouth contaminants. Many substances containing ethanol, such as mouthwashes, breath sprays, cough medicines, and certain foods, can also lead to false positive results on DUI tests if they are present on your breath at the time of testing. It’s important to note that these contaminants do not show up during any kind of blood test - only during field sobriety tests and breathalyzers when residual mouth alcohol is present from recent consumption or contact with these substances prior to testing.
Low-carb diet. A low-carb diet can also lead to false positives on breathing tests because ketones produced by breaking down fat during digestion are metabolized into acetone which can be mistaken for ethyl alcohol (ethanol) on a breathalyzer test. This can potentially result in inflated readings that don’t accurately reflect actual blood-alcohol content levels at all times during testing procedures.
This is a non-exhaustive list of possible reasons for a false positive result on your DUI test. If you believe that your DUI test result could be wrong, contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss your particular situation.
Contesting False Positives
The first step in contesting a false positive result on your DUI test is to hire an experienced attorney who can help build your defense case against the charge. Your attorney will look into all aspects of the case, including whether or not the testing procedure was carried out properly and if there were any technical issues with the device used for testing.
They will also consider if there were any health conditions present at the time of testing that could have affected its accuracy, such as diabetes or asthma, which can sometimes lead to erroneous results from breathalyzers.
Your attorney will also examine whether prescription medications taken prior to testing could have caused inaccurate results, as some medicines could interfere with readings from breathalyzers and other tests administered by law enforcement officers. If you believe there is something in particular that may have caused a false positive result on your DUI test, be sure to inform your attorney about it.
Turn to Ruhl & Lux, P.A. for Defense
When facing DUI charges, it’s important to understand your rights and make sure any evidence used against you is accurate and correct. If you have reason to believe that the DUI charges against you are based on a false positive result, contact an attorney as soon as possible. The DUI defense attorneys at Ruhl & Lux, P.A. can help you protect your rights by building a strong defense against these charges. Reach out to discuss your case.