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Low-carb diets could fool police breath tests

Many Texas residents who are trying to lose weight follow diets extremely low in carbohydrates. These diets work by depleting the body's glucose stores and prompting it to enter ketosis, which is a metabolic state where the liver burns fat directly to provide the body with energy. While this may be an effective way of shedding excess pounds, studies suggest that it can also fool the roadside breath-testing devices police officers use to determine whether or not motorists are driving under the influence of alcohol.

According to scientists, this happens because acetone is a byproduct of the fat-burning process that takes place when the body enters ketosis and some of this acetone is released in the breath in the form of isopropyl alcohol. Police use infrared spectroscopy equipment to measure intoxication in law enforcement facilities that is able to tell the difference between ethanol alcohol and isopropyl alcohol, but the portable units used to conduct roadside breath tests are not as sophisticated.

Experts who are critical of current breath-testing protocols concede that even the strictest low-carbohydrate diets will not produce enough isopropyl alcohol to register a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or above when motorists have consumed no alcohol. However, drivers who follow these diets may have some explaining to do if they get behind the wheel after one or two drinks and get pulled over.

Low-carb diets are not the only things that can cause breath testing devices to produce inaccurate results. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may ask individuals who are accused of driving under the influence about any medical conditions they may have and the medications they are taking to treat them. This is because some very common medications such as asthma treatments like albuterol and salmeterol can influence breath-test results. Medical conditions that can produce inaccurate toxicology evidence include acid reflux disease and diabetes.

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