Breathalyzer Test: Does Smoking Impact Results?

Are you stopped for DUI in Orangeburg, SC? If yes, you may be asked to blow your breath over a device known as a breathalyzer. This will show the Blood Alcohol Content in your body.

If the BAC on the device is 0.08 or above, you will be charged with Driving under the Influence. Depending on whether it’s your first-time or repeated offense, you may have to pay fines, penalties, suspension of your driving license, and even jail time.

These offenses will also permanently become part of your driving record. Should you just go by the rules or stand a chance to challenge them? Are these tests always accurate? Is one test enough to decide if the person is driving under influence? You can find answers to such questions by consulting the best DUI lawyer in Orangeburg.

A breathalyzer device can be affected by a variety of factors. Smoking can be one of them.

Does smoking affect the result of a breathalyzer test?

Yes, smoking a few hours before your breathalyzer test is taken or if you are a chain smoker can affect your breathalyzer test result.

Over one billion people in the world smoke. Amongst these, for many, smoking and drinking go hand in hand.

The breathalyzer device has been around since 1938. It was initially known as a Drunkometer and Intoximeter. Later in 1954, it was renamed Breathalyser and is stuck with it till date.

But in recent years, much criticism has gathered stating that the breathalyzer results are not always true. Many studies have proven that it cannot be a true indicator of BAC as many external factors influence its results.

With the emerging criticism, it is no longer the only test that will land you a DUI. The police officers must perform other tests like field sobriety tests, chemical tests, urine tests and other blood tests in conjunction with a breathalyzer to conclude.

So, here is how smoking can influence the results of a breathalyzer test:

Smoking slows gastric emptying

Smoking cigarettes can strongly influence the body’s response to alcohol, per the British Medical Journal studies. This can negatively influence the breathalyzer results when performed after a few hours of smoking.

As per the study, the results of both of the breathalyzer tests were compared, i.e., when the driver smoked a few hours before and when the driver took the test without smoking at all.

The result of the study says the alcohol content in the body was measured less when the person smoked than when he did not. The reason is that smoking slows down alcohol absorption in the body, thus lowering the BAC level falsely.

This is not it. As per another factor, smoking can also result in high alcohol readings.

Due to acetaldehyde

Breathalyzer tests not only measure alcohol but other compounds like methyl molecules and acetaldehyde. It fails to distinguish between these compounds and considers them as alcohol too.

What is Acetaldehyde? It is a by-product of metabolizing alcohol produced by the liver. It is also found in the lungs, but its amount can vary from person to person. However, it is clear through studies that people who smoke have a higher concentration of acetaldehyde in their lungs than non-smokers.

Thus, this is a clear link that smoking can falsely inflate the breathalyzer readings.

If you are a smoker and have been stopped for DUI, there is a clear reason why you can challenge your breathalyzer test results. Also, if you think your breathalyzer test results are influenced by one or other physiological reasons, you can contact a DUI attorney in Orangeburg to defend yourself before a court of law.

Other factors that influence the readings of a breathalyzer test

There is not just smoking cigarettes or marijuana that can influence the readings of the breathalyzer test negatively. Many other reasons affect its readings, which is also one of the reasons it’s facing a backlash these days. Other factors include:

  • Contamination of mouth

This isn’t well known, but you should know that eating mint, mouth freshener, menthol tobacco, and even asthma inhalers can affect the readings on a breathalyzer device. Also, even dental adhesive or any dental work that can give a positive reading can falsely claim as driving drunk.

  • Operator error

Not many people know that operator error can also lead to false readings. There is a proper manual to operate a breathalyzer device. As per this, the operator has to follow a 20 min rule before using it again. Any error in performing his can show false readings.

  • Power sources

Do you also know that the breathalyzer device needs a dedicated and grounded power circuit for it to work correctly? This is rarely the case in police rooms. They may be used with the power circuit for microwaves, toasters, cameras, computers, and other devices. This can influence the results of a breathalyzer test.

  • Physical conditions

There are other physical conditions as well that affect the breathalyzer test results. This includes taking prescription drugs a while before the test, gastric reflux, vomiting before the test, hyperventilation, fever, liver diseases etc.

One degree increase in body temperature can lead to a 0.03% increase in the Bac level. Thus, fever or high body temperature can influence the readings badly.

When should you hire a DUI attorney in Orangeburg?

It would be a clever step to hire a DUI attorney in Orangeburg:

  • If you are stopped for DUI
  • If it’s your first DUI offense
  • If it’s your repeated DUI offense
  • If you are forced to perform field sobriety tests
  • If you want to save yourself from DUI arrest

You should call a DUI attorney to save your grace if it’s your first DUI offense. Getting a DUI offense on your driving record can have lifelong impacts. It not only shows on your driving record but also raises your insurance premium rates. It also leads to suspension of your driving license. And getting your driving license reinstated after a suspension is a lot of work.

Thus, hiring a DUI attorney and working with him to prove your innocence is in the best interests of the offender.

A DUI defense attorney knows the ins and outs of dealing with a DUI case. Even if it’s a repeated offense, they can devise ways to challenge the results and minimize your punishments. Getting a DUI on your record can also negatively impact your career and finding a job. The troubles can be endless.

Consulting an Orangeburg, SC, criminal defense attorney is free. You can contact a lawyer as soon as possible after your DUI offense.