Imagine driving home from work one night. During your evening commute through Queens, a police officer pulls you over. You had been feeling a bit off, dizzy even, so you were not totally surprised when the officer asked if you had been drinking. You were surprised, however, when the breathalyzer test came back positive for alcohol. You had not had a drop of alcohol since the weekend, so there was no possible way the test could be correct. Unfortunately, the officer’s first reaction was to arrest you for driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Acetone on the breath can easily lead to a false positive on a breathalyzer test. This is because these devices are calibrated to pick up the presence of alcohol in general, not just beer and liquor. Unfortunately, since acetone is a byproduct of certain conditions, this can cause an individual suffering from hypoglycemia to blow a positive reading.
Symptoms that resemble intoxication
Not only can hypoglycemia produce a false breathalyzer reading, it can cause physical symptoms that a police officer can easily mistake for intoxication. For example, an individual suffering from hypoglycemia might display dizziness, clumsiness, have problems focusing or show signs of confusion. A person who is drunk often exhibits the same symptoms.
Conditions that lead to hypoglycemia
While hypoglycemia often occurs in individuals who have diabetes, there are other conditions that can lead to it as well. Heart, liver and kidney diseases can also cause an individual to become hypoglycemic. In addition, a panic or anxiety attack can cause the condition, as can consuming diet soda. People who adhere to a strict low carbohydrate diet can also produce increased levels of acetone that can cause a breathalyzer to give a false positive reading.
If the state has charged you with a DWI based on a breathalyzer test that gave a false positive, keep in mind that you have rights and options. You can fight back against the charges and possibly avoid a DWI that can affect your life for years to come.