When the police stop your vehicle on suspicion of DUI, you will likely undergo a breath test to determine the alcohol content in your bloodstream. The blood alcohol concentration, abbreviated as BAC, is used as the standard indicator of impairment, although it technically only shows what amount of alcohol is in your blood or breath. The law enforcement officers use breathalyzer equipment to conduct a DUI breath test. However, breathalyzer test results are not always accurate. If you face DUI charges and you suspect that your DUI breath test result is inaccurate, you should contact an attorney. Your attorney can fight your DUI charges by challenging the accuracy of the BAC tests in court. For legal guidance and defense in Pasadena and surrounding Los Angeles courts, contact attorney Ann Gottesman.

Many factors can affect the accuracy of a DUI breath test. Before taking the test, the testing officer must adjust the breathalyzer equipment to accommodate the surrounding temperature. Your breathing patterns can also have an impact on your BAC readings. Hyperventilation, breathing heavily, or nervousness are some factors that can affect the accuracy of BAC results.

The common factors that could affect breath test accuracy include:

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can affect your DUI breath test accuracy:


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the most severe form of heartburn. This medical condition can result in falsely high breathalyzer breath test readings.

When you consume alcohol, it will enter your bloodstream through the stomach and small intestines. Alcohol is then distributed throughout your body, including the lungs, where it can evaporate through exhaled air. Breathalyzers test the alcohol content of an individual's breath to determine the blood alcohol concentration.

GERD is a medical condition whereby the stomach contents, including partially digested food and stomach acid, can flow backward into the esophagus. The backflow is also called acid reflux. The backflow can introduce alcohol vapors from the stomach into the esophagus and mouth.

If a driver suffering from GERD undergoes a breath test, the alcohol vapors from the stomach could be detectable in their breath. This could result in false readings on the breathalyzer. Alcohol vapors could falsely inflate the tested alcohol concentration, making it seem higher than it is in an individual's bloodstream. This phenomenon is called residual mouth alcohol.


Diabetes can lead to inaccurate breath test results. Most diabetic patients frequently experience "hypoglycemia". Hypoglycemia is a situation where blood sugar levels become lower than usual. This can occur when a diabetic patient skips a meal, engages in excessive physical exercise, or consumes excessive insulin. You could have physical symptoms of intoxication if you have hypoglycemia. Low blood glucose levels can also make the breathalyzer equipment register false positive results.

Some of the physical symptoms of intoxication that can result from low glucose levels in the bloodstream include:

  • Anxiety or nervousness.
  • Confusion.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Fast heartbeat.
  • Sweating.
  • Dizziness.

It is common for individuals with diabetes to be suspected of DUI because of the similarity in symptoms between hypoglycemia and intoxication.

Ketosis is also another health effect associated with diabetes. You could experience this metabolic process if you have insufficient glucose. In this case, your body turns to stored fat instead of sugar to generate energy, inducing the liver to produce ketones. The liver tends to create more ketones than the body can eliminate. Ketones released through breath and urine can mislead a breathalyzer and cause falsely high BAC readings. An individual suffering from ketosis is at risk of being suspected of committing a DUI because of this.

Ketoacidosis is an abnormally high level of ketones in the body. The symptoms could easily be mistaken for intoxication. Ketoacidosis has the following symptoms that mimic intoxication:

  • Confusion.
  • Fruity-scented breath.
  • Fatigue or weakness.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Excessive thirst.

Ketones share a composition with isopropyl alcohol. This is why breath-testing devices confuse ketones with alcohol. Ethyl alcohol is the type of alcohol found in alcoholic drinks. Breath-testing devices read isopropyl alcohol the same way as ethyl alcohol. The device cannot differentiate between ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, and ketones. California law prohibits the use of alcohol-based disinfectants like isopropyl alcohol while collecting blood samples because they could affect the accuracy of BAC testing outcomes.

A Driver's Teeth

Most people are surprised to learn that their teeth can affect their breath test results, especially if they have bridges, braces, dentures, or other orthodontic work. These artificial devices can trap particles of liquid and physical substances. Any alcohol present on the teeth can falsely increase the level of alcohol being read and registered by the breathalyzer device. Instead of detecting the alcohol vapors in your deep lung air, the device detects the alcohol in your mouth, making the breathalyzer results artificially high.

Most manufacturers of current breath testing devices allege that these devices have detectors that will notify the operator of the presence of mouth alcohol. However, some experts dispute the reliability of the detectors. Often, breath-testing devices are not able to differentiate between the alcohol that has been absorbed into the bloodstream and unabsorbed alcohol in the mouth. The inability to distinguish between the two could lead to false results.

Air And Body Temperatures

Air and body temperatures can significantly alter breathalyzer test results. If you have a fever and are ordered to undergo a breath test, the breathalyzer can record false results. Your blood alcohol concentration will increase significantly for every degree your body temperature is above average.

Similarly, a person's breathing rate can directly influence their blood alcohol concentration reading, as tested by a breathalyzer. Holding one's breath for 30 seconds, hyperventilation, and vigorous exercise can significantly affect your blood alcohol concentration rate.

Weather or air temperature can also influence your blood alcohol concentration. A breathalyzer test conducted outdoors can record a false reading if the device is not calibrated to account for outdoor temperatures.

Radiofrequency Interference

Any instrument with electronic circuitry, including breathalyzer devices, could cause false results. Electromagnetic interference is a disturbance that affects an electrical circuit. It can occur due to electromagnetic radiation or electromagnetic induction from an external source. The disturbance can obstruct, interrupt, or otherwise limit or degrade the adequate performance of the circuit. The effects could range from total data loss to simple data degradation.

Radiofrequency interference (RFI) can influence the results of a breathalyzer. The RFI can cause false high readings. However, the Intoxilyzer 8000 device uses an RFI detector. The device is supposed to stop the test and print an error message flagging RFI when RFI is detected. Some experts, however, claim that the breathalyzer device does a poor job of detecting RFI.

Device Calibration

When the police order you to blow into a breathalyzer device to determine the level of alcohol in your blood, you expect the reading of the device to be fair and accurate. This could be misplaced trust if the machine fails or is improperly maintained. You could face drunk driving charges because of inaccurate breathalyzer calibrations. A false positive can occur even if you were sober at the time of breath testing.

Typically, the accuracy of a breathalyzer test depends on the device's accuracy. Like any other device, a breathalyzer device requires maintenance and inspection to ensure that it works well. Regular calibration is one of the most essential maintenance steps for keeping a breathalyzer test accurate. The proper calibration guarantees accurate and consistent machine readings.

A well-calibrated breathalyzer device will give close readings for breaths given by similar subjects within proximity of time. A breathalyzer with different readings from the same testing subjects could be improperly calibrated.

If you face DUI charges, you can show that the breathalyzer device used at the traffic stop was poorly maintained or defective. You can also point out that the breathalyzer test was improperly administered.

Use Of Cosmetics

People use many personal hygiene products in their daily lives. However, some of the products can affect the breathalyzer test results:


Certain toothpaste brands could make you fail a breathalyzer test. Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol used in toothpaste to provide sweetness and keep the paste's water content. Therefore, some toothpaste brands could cause positive breathalyzer test results even if you have not consumed alcohol. Some brands contain ethyl alcohol that could trigger positive breathalyzer test results. Ethyl alcohol is also used in mouthwashes but in larger quantities than in toothpaste.

Hand Sanitizers

If the testing officer applies certain types of hand sanitizers before performing the breath test, the breathalyzer equipment can produce false BAC results. Some hand sanitizers are detectable by a breathalyzer, mainly when a police officer misuses them.

You could test positive for alcohol if the testing officer uses a hand sanitizer before the breath test. The false positive results could result from the vaporization on the hand of the police officer holding the breathalyzer device. The breathalyzer device could produce a false positive reading even if you have not taken any alcohol.

Breathe Sprays And Mouthwash

Most breath sprays and mouthwash products have high levels of alcohol. However, they do not mimic intoxication when used as directed. However, they can produce an elevated reading on BAC breath tests. Certain chewing gums could also produce similar false breathalyzer test results. Additionally, other medications like blood pressure medications, anti-seizure, and antidepressants can cause you to fail a sobriety test. This can happen even if you are not intoxicated.

Officer Inexperience And Lack Of Training

Law enforcement should undergo proper training in using breathalyzer devices to ensure that the tests are administered appropriately. Before performing the test, the officer should ensure the breathalyzer equipment is well-calibrated. An officer without experience can fail to calibrate the device properly or check it before administering a breathalyzer test. This inappropriate administration of the test could lead to faulty results.

If you suspect the officer who administered the DUI breath test is inexperienced, contact an attorney. Your attorney can base your defense on the inaccurate BAC readings. If you convince the judge that the BAC results presented in court are inaccurate, the judge could even dismiss your charges for lack of evidence. With the help of your attorney, you can assert that your blood alcohol concentration was within the allowable limit, but the breathalyzer equipment recorded the wrong readings.


Perhaps you have an underlying medical condition for which you take medication. Unfortunately, some of the medicines have high levels of alcohol or other substances, which can make the breathalyzer equipment indicate high levels of blood alcohol content. The following are some of the medications that could lead to false breathalyzer test results:

Over-the-Counter Medications

Most flu and cold medications and sleep aids have alcohol components. You could record false breathalyzer test results if you use Nyquil, some Vicks products, or medication that has alcohol. Additionally, if you take large quantities of cough drops before the blood alcohol concentration test, you could record false results.

Oral Pain Relievers

Anbesol is a local anesthetic that comes in handy in relieving mouth pain caused by canker sores or toothaches. Sadly, Anbesol has a significant percentage of alcohol content. Your saliva can oxidize Anbesol to produce a high alcohol content reading on a blood alcohol concentration test.

Asthma Medications

Asthma medications remain in the airways after they are inhaled. Therefore, you could record falsely elevated readings if you have used your inhaler shortly before undergoing a BAC breath test. Some asthma medications that could trigger false positives on a BAC test include:

  • Salmeterol drug used in inhalers for treating asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • Budesonide is a steroidal asthma drug that relieves symptoms of Crohn's disease, rhinitis, allergies, and fever.

Albuterol drug, also called Salbutamol – this drug offers temporary relief from breathing issues associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.

  • Administering Only One Breath Test.
  • DUI and breath testing experts agree that:
  • Administering a single breathalyzer test on a DUI suspect is not reliable.
  • Variations across the outcome of breathalyzer tests can be 12.55 positive or negative.
  • A DUI suspect should at least undergo two breathalyzer tests to have more reliable BAC results.

The police must record in the police reports the number of breath tests administered. They must also record the readings recorded, whether positive or negative. Officers must also record the period the officer waited between the breath tests. Additionally, the officer should indicate if the machine was re-calibrated before retesting a suspect's BAC. You can argue that the accuracy of breathalyzer tests was compromised if only one breath test was administered during the DUI stop.

Other Chemical Compounds

A breathalyzer device does not test alcohol. Instead, it tests the amount of the methyl group of chemical compounds that the machine assumes is ethyl alcohol. This is the case, particularly with infrared breath testers. There are various types of chemical compounds within the methyl group structure.

Other chemical compounds could be present in a person's breath, which can cause false positive breathalyzer test results. Some chemical compounds could exist in an individual's breath from the following activities:

  • Prescribed use of inhalants like budesonide, salmeterol, and Salbutamol, which are commonly used to treat asthma.
  • Using smokeless tobacco.
  • Use of certain brands of lip balm.
  • Consuming foods containing liqueurs.
  • Consuming certain bread products.
  • Consumption of Listerine, breath spray, breath strips, and other types of mouthwash.
  • Production of Acetone is commonly found in the breath of diabetic patients, as well as people who have gone on the Atkins diet or other types of low-carb diets involving fasting.
  • Breathing in varnish fumes, propane, oil-based paint, or gasoline.
  • Use of some medications, including toothache medicine, cold medicine, cough syrup, albuterol, and Nyquil.
  • Production of mouth alcohol from vomiting, periodontal disease, denture, or burping and belching.

Research shows that the presence of acetone can add a 0.01-.02% blood alcohol concentration reading to any existing alcohol content. Acetone could also result in a 0.01-.02% blood alcohol concentration reading in a person who has not consumed alcohol. However, most breath machines now can distinguish between acetone and ethyl alcohol.

Common Myths About Tricking Breathalyzer Test Results

Seeing the police signaling you to stop your vehicle can be traumatizing, especially if you have consumed alcohol. After a DUI stop, law enforcement will likely order you to blow into a small, handheld machine called an Alco-Sensor for a preliminary breath-screening test. You have a right to decline a PAS test. However, you could face severe penalties if you refuse to undergo a blood or evidentiary breathalyzer test after a lawful arrest.

The police could use your refusal against you in the criminal DUI proceedings. A DUI test refusal could also lead to your driver's license suspension for up to one year on a first offense.

Since declining a breathalyzer test is not an option, many drivers look for ways to "trick" breathalyzer equipment. There are common myths about tricking breathalyzer equipment. Sadly, tricking a breathalyzer device is not possible.

The following are some of the myths about how to beat a breathalyzer test that you should not try:

Chewing An Onion

Some people believe that chewing a raw onion after consuming alcohol can suppress the detection of alcohol in their breath. However, consuming an onion cannot influence your blood alcohol concentration. You can mask the smell of alcohol with an onion, but alcohol will still be detectable in your deep lung air.

Drinking Coffee

Some drivers assume that they can become sober faster by drinking coffee before driving. While it may perk you up a little, coffee does not influence your breathalyzer test results.


Hyperventilating can substitute alcohol gasses with fresh air. This technique, however, cannot reduce your blood alcohol concentration. Law enforcement would likely see you doing it and order you to repeat the test.

Putting A Battery In The Mouth

Some think putting a battery on the tongue will trick the breathalyzer test. It is hard to hide the battery in your mouth from law enforcement, and this technique cannot work. The current from the battery will not have any effect on the breath test.

Sucking On Pennies

Often, some DUI suspects think that sucking on a penny will create a chemical reaction that will lead to reduced blood alcohol concentration. This myth is based on pennies having copper. Unfortunately, law enforcement will always ensure you have nothing in your mouth before administering the test.

Holding Your Breath

Holding your breath does not reduce your blood alcohol concentration. Instead, holding your breath will increase the period the alcohol has to diffuse into your lungs. In this case, your blood alcohol concentration could be higher than if you had not attempted this trick.


Some DUI suspects think that burping while undergoing a breathalyzer test will make the machine register the gas from their stomach rather than their lungs. This is false; belching does not influence the breathalyzer test results.

Using Mouthwash Or Breath Spray

Alcohol is among the ingredients of mouthwash. Most breath sprays contain Listerine, which contains a significant percentage of alcohol. Using breath spray or mouthwash could increase your blood alcohol concentration, even if you are not intoxicated. This could lead to a false positive test.

Chewing Gum Or Mints

Chewing gum can suppress the alcohol smell on your breath but not your blood alcohol concentration. Chewing gum or eating mints will only hide the smell of other ingredients in your drink because alcohol is odorless. Additionally, some mints could have sugar alcohol.

Eating After Consuming Alcohol

Some DUI suspects believe that eating food after taking alcohol can reduce their blood alcohol concentration. Generally, once you take alcohol, it will be absorbed in your bloodstream. Therefore, eating food cannot lower your blood alcohol concentration but it can lengthen the time of absorption.

Find a Reliable DUI Attorney Near Me

Although breath tests are admissible in court, they do not always produce accurate readings. False positives can result from mouth alcohol, improper administration of the test, certain medical conditions, using mouthwash, and other cosmetics. If you face DUI charges in Pasadena, CA, you can challenge the accuracy of the breathalyzer test results. Ann, at The Law Office of Ann Gottesman can determine whether the test was properly administered and see if there are any defensible issues to pursue. If it is evident that the breathalyzer results are inaccurate or unreliable, Ann will explore this issue with an experienced toxicologist.  

If you are someone you care about is facing DUI charges, Call attorney Ann Gottesman for a free consultation.  She is compassionate, experienced and ready to fight for you. Ann can be reached directly at 626-710-4021, or you can text her on her cell phone at 818-606-3142. You do not have to go through this alone!