Previous posts have addressed a few of the main issues surrounding the Intoxilyzer 8000, one of the most serious being the presence of residual mouth alcohol when taking a breath test. Residual mouth alcohol is any alcohol that remains in the mouth or the esophagus at the time the breath test is taken. Security measures are taken to prevent this from happening, but for people who suffer from heartburn or gastroesophageal disease (GERD), the risk is always present.
What is Gastroesophageal Disease?
Medical conditions like GERD can trick a breathalyzer test into releasing false results. These results are always false high positives. Instead of detecting the deep lung air for which the device is calibrated to detect, it takes into account the alcohol content of the residual mouth alcohol in the mouth and airways.
According to Healthline.com, approximately seven million people living in the United States experience symptoms of gastroesophageal disease. GERD (also known as acid reflux) is a chronic disease characterized by the reflux, or return, of stomach contents back into the esophagus. For someone who has recently been drinking, even just one drink can cause GERD symptoms, bringing alcohol back into the throat causing mouth alcohol.
Heartburn is GERD’s main symptom, so even someone who does not suffer from frequent heartburn like someone who has GERD, may still be affected by mouth alcohol if a heartburn is experienced during the breath test.
Is there a way to prevent a false positive?
Although law enforcement personnel trained to administer tests on the Intoxilyzer 8000 are required to observe a DUI suspect for twenty minutes prior to conducting the test, small regurgitations can go unnoticed during the breath test. The act of submitting a long exhale also puts pressure on the stomach and diaphragm, prompting acid reflux symptoms.
In a healthy digestive system, the valve where the stomach and the esophagus meet is supposed to keep stomach contents out of the esophagus after they go into the stomach. The diaphragm is a muscle that is supposed to reinforce this valve. In those with acid reflux or GERD, this valve is weakened. When pressure is added to the stomach and esophagus from submitting long breaths, the valve is further loosened, causing reflux.
Despite abiding by the proper observation period, many accused of DUI in Palm Beach are shocked to receive results that show they are well over the legal limit of 0.08 despite only having one or two drinks with dinner before the traffic stop. All too often these positive results of over 0.10 unfairly portray those who were drinking responsibly and display no visible signs of intoxication such as slurred speech or lack of coordination.
If you are arrested for DUI in Palm Beach County, attorney Brian Gabriel has years of experience investigating these discrepancies. Mr. Gabriel has practiced criminal defense as a trial lawyer for over 25 years. Call 561-622-5575 for a free legal consultation today.