Suffering from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), acid reflux or heartburn can trick the Datamaster in Michigan, causing an inaccurately high reading of the blood alcohol level.
The breath machine is supposed to receive and measure alcohol from the deep lung tissue, a region of the lungs called the alveoli. Breath alcohol concentration from this “alveolar air" or “deep lung air” is thought to correlate with blood alcohol concentration.
But GERD can cause alcohol to travel from the stomach back to the throat and mouth. When this happens, the suspect blows this mouth alcohol (rather than alveolar air alcohol) into the breath machine. The machine then provides a reading higher—often times dramatically higher—than the DUI suspect's true BAC. A person with a true BAC of .05 can read .20, which turns a case that would not be charged into a criminal case.
This problem is not limited to those who suffer from regular or chronic GERD. Anyone who recently ate a large meal, a greasy meal or a spicy meal may experience acid reflux or heartburn. If you take a Datamaster breath test during this period, the results may be erroneously high.
If a Datamaster was used in your case, the police and prosecutor are no doubt convinced that it’s 100 percent accurate. After all, their machine told them so, and machines never make errors. This machine not only NEVER makes errors in their mind, it also is completely reliable no matter who the test subject is; this stance is wrong and should be challenged. If the results are successfully challenged, a prosecutor is likely to dismiss their case, and you walk.
Each person who puts their mouth on the breath sample tube comes to it with different circumstances; a major one is pre existing medical conditions. There’s a number of these medical conditions, which can make the test result completely unreliable.
If my client suffers from diabetes, and they are in a state of ketoacidosis, the elevated levels acetone in their blood could be wrongly identified as ethanol; the Datamaster machine does not know the difference. The same can be said for someone suffering from hypoglycemia.
If my client suffered a mouth or head injury as part of the case (car accident of some sort), it’s very possible that they have blood in their mouth; even a small, which would not be detected by the police, could produce a “mouth alcohol” result, which is a higher concentration level, and the machine would be fooled into thinking a 0.02 is actually a 0.20.
The same can be said about recent or persistent regurgitation (throwing up/spitting up etc). This occurrence would cause alcohol from the stomach to be in your mouth, which if blown into the Datamaster would provide a much higher reading. It’s a falsity to believe that the 15 minute observation rule or the machine itself would be able to make this distinction.
Another common issue that could impact the reliability of the results is Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD), which is a condition where alcohol is expelled from the stomach and enters the mouth, which would cause a false result.
Finally, if a client has dentures or any other dental issue, alcohol can get trapped in the mouth, which would create a higher concentration due to mouth alcohol.
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