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Will someone’s diet affect their breath test results?

On Behalf of | Nov 4, 2023 | DUI

A chemical breath test is theoretically a reliable means of establishing chemical impairment. These devices take a sample of exhaled air and look for chemical molecules within a certain family. Unfortunately, alcohol is not the only compound that will trigger positive breath test results. 

Certain other chemicals can also lead to positive breath test results. Individuals arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) offenses in Pennsylvania often question how they could have failed the breath test if they didn’t have anything to drink. 

Sometimes the answer lies in what they have eaten (or not eaten) in recent days. 

The keto diet can trigger a false positive

In the late teens, the keto diet became a popular way for people to quickly burn body fat. Since then, doctors have begun to recommend it to people with conditions ranging from heart disease to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) as a way to manage their symptoms. 

In theory, a keto diet can be healthy for someone. Unfortunately, keeping the body in a state of ketoacidosis, which is where the diet gets its name, does have some unintended consequences. One of those consequences is the production of acetone as the body burns fat. The acetone produced is a waste product that the body excretes through exhaled air. It can then trigger false positives during a chemical breath test that could lead to someone’s arrest. 

Someone seeking to figure out why they failed a breath test may need to look at factors including their diet, their health conditions and even their personal grooming habits to find a reasonable explanation for why the test returned inaccurate results. Finding an explanation for a failed breath test can be an important part of a DUI defense strategy in Pennsylvania.