Breathalyzer False Positives: What To Do

Imagine you’re driving home one late evening when the police pull you over. The cop accuses you of drinking and driving, but you deny it. Then, they order you out of your vehicle for a breathalyzer test.

You test positive for DUI, but you swear you weren’t drinking. However, the police ignore your claims and arrest you for driving under the influence of alcohol. But a DUI is a severe offense in Charleston, South Carolina.

So, suppose the court convicts you. Then, you’ll face stiff penalties such as heavy fines and imprisonment. Therefore, the police must ensure they always have the right guy.

Wrongly testing positive for DUI often happens in Charleston, SC. If this happens to you, hiring the best DUI defense lawyer will be ideal. In the meantime, this article explains what to do if you falsely test positive for DUI.

What Is a Breathalyzer Test?

The police have several methods for identifying drunk drivers. One of them is the breathalyzer test. Here, officers use a hand-held diagnostic device to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC).

This is the percentage of alcohol in your blood. Notably, you’ll have to blow into the device to get a reading. So, if your BAC exceeds the legal limit of 0.08%, the police will arrest you for DUI.

How Common Are False Positive Breathalyzer Tests?

The police often claim that DUI tests are accurate. But, while this is sometimes true, many alcohol breath test results are incorrect.    The frequent periods when the breathalyzer test is wrong should worry you.

A New York Times investigation revealed how unreliable breathalyzer tests could be. The device often malfunctions, giving up to 40% higher results. Luckily, suppose you can prove the error. Then, the court won’t accept the test results as evidence.

Why Did I Fail a Breathalyzer Test in Charleston, SC? Best DUI Defense Lawyer Explains

Did you get a false positive result for a breathalyzer test? Unfortunately, you’re not alone. Many Americans daily fail DUI tests when they aren’t drinking. Sadly, many of these drivers suffer unjustly.

So, here are five possible reasons why you failed the breathalyzer test.

Medical Conditions 

Certain diseases can influence your breathalyzer test. Any medical condition that can increase your acetone levels can affect your DUI test. Examples of such conditions include:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Acid reflux
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney and liver diseases

In addition, symptoms of hypoglycemia are similar to signs of intoxication. Such symptoms include dizziness and confusion. Thus, the police may feel these signs justify the false test results.


Some drugs can also cause a false breathalyzer positive. Examples of medicines you should watch out for include:

  • Cold and allergy prescriptions
  • Large intakes of aspirin
  • Sulfa medications
  • Drugs for heartburn and acid reflux
  • Pain relievers
  • Asthma medications

A study once showed that asthma inhalers also affect breath tests. So, if you’re using an inhaler, you may get a higher and false BAC reading.

Equipment Calibration 

Again, you can falsely test positive because of faulty breathalyzer equipment. This can also happen when the breathalyzer isn’t properly calibrated. Unfortunately, the police don’t always calibrate the device properly.

In addition, they don’t properly care for the machines. The officer may not even be qualified to conduct the test. Thus, the device often malfunctions and gives out wrong readings.

Food and Other Drinks 

The food you eat before driving can also influence your BAC result. Several foods and drinks contain alcohol. The alcohol level may not be significant enough to cause intoxication. But they can lead to false breathalyzer readings.

Some examples of such foods are:

  • Protein bars
  • Hot sauce
  • Food cooked with alcohol
  • Bread containing yeast
  • Nuts
  • Cinnamon rolls
  • Honeybuns
  • Keto diets
  • Sugar buns

Similarly, these drinks can affect breathalyzer tests:

  • Energy drinks
  • Fermented drinks
  • Non-alcoholic wine

Hand Sanitizers 

Yes, the hand sanitizers we all had to use more frequently since the pandemic can affect your DUI test. For example, suppose the police officer just used a hand sanitizer. Then, it can cause the machine to record false positives.

It’s noteworthy that most hand sanitizers are alcohol-based. Therefore, the alcohol on the operator’s hands influences the readings. Your results may even be higher if the hand sanitizer didn’t dry properly.

Environmental Factors 

The state of your surroundings can impact alcohol tests. This happens when you inhale or ingest certain elements. Similarly, airborne conditions can cause a false positive.

Common environmental sources of false breathalyzer readings include:

  • Home and cleaning supplies that have alcohol
  • Alcohol-based body lotions
  • Perfumes
  • Wall paints
  • Chemicals related to adhesives and plastics
  • Dust particles from airbags
  • Type of battery the breathalyzer uses
  • Contaminants that remain on the mouthpiece of the breathalyzer after the last use
  • Hair sprays
  • Air fresheners and bleach

What Should You Do If You False Test Positive for DUI in Charleston, SC?

Suppose you falsely test positive for a DUI test. Then, you’ll have to prove your innocence. But, of course, the police wouldn’t just take your word that you aren’t intoxicated.

Similarly, your words won’t be sufficient in court. Instead, you need evidence to prove that you got a false reading. That’s why you need the best DUI defense lawyer.

So, here’s what to do if you wrongly test positive for a DUI test:

  • Boldly and clearly inform the police that you haven’t been drinking
  • Stay calm and don’t resist arrest
  • Do not consent to a car search
  • Do not confess to a DUI thinking the police will release you
  • Hire an excellent DUI defense attorney immediately
  • Exercise your right to silence until your lawyer comes
  • Insist on speaking only to your lawyer

Proving a False Breathalyzer Result 

Fortunately, a skilled attorney can challenge an incorrect DUI test. Therefore, it’s vital to tell your lawyer the truth. Hiding any information from them will hurt your case.

An attorney can challenge the test by:

  • Showing what caused the false reading
  • Providing evidence of your activities before the arrest proving that you didn’t take alcohol
  • Establish that the arresting police officer wasn’t certified to administer the test

Suppose your lawyer succeeds on any of these grounds. Then, the court will throw out the breathalyzer test results.

You Need the Best DUI Defense Lawyer to Beat That False DUI Positive!

Did the police arrest you on a DUI charge? Do you think that you wrongly tested positive for the DUI tests? Then, you can fight and beat the charge in court.

However, handling your case personally will be challenging. Proving that you falsely tested positive for a DUI test is a technical process. Thus, hiring an excellent criminal defense team will be best.

Our criminal defense lawyer, Charleston, SC, has spent several years helping Charleston drivers wrongly charged or arrested for DUIs. Therefore, we’re confident we can win your case. Call us today for a FREE consultation.