According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60% of American adults are obese or overweight. In recent years, one of the most popular diets people have been using to lose weight is the low carbohydrate diet. While we can’t provide information about how successful a low carb diet is or the long-term medical effects on a dieter’s body, we can tackle how this diet regimen might affect breath test results in DWI breath tests.
What is a Low Carb Diet?
It’s a diet program commonly used as a treatment for obesity that limits the intake of carbohydrates. Instead of taking in regular amount of carbohydrates, dieters consume more high-protein and high-fat foods. The amount of carbohydrates allowed in a low carb diet varies depending on which plan you are following.
In addition to obesity, this type of diet is also used to treat some other medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, epilepsy, polycystic ovarian syndrome and other diseases related to obesity. A very low carb diet (VLCD) leads to ketonemia or ketosis, which is why one variation of this diet is called the Ketogenic diet. Many of the popular mainstream diets in recent years are in one shape or form “low carb diets”, some of the more popular ones are: Atkins, GI, South Beach, Flat Belly and Dukan.
How Does A Very Low Carb Diet Affect Breath Test Results?
The reason is a low carb diet which can increase the body’s metabolism and burn fat can also spike up the acetone levels. The acetone can break down into isopropanol by the hepatic alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). The isopropanol can then be picked up by either a evidentiary breath test machine or an ignition interlock device even though the person taking the test did not consume any alcohol as a beverage.
How Ethanol and Isopropanol Levels Are Measured
The alcohol associated with alcoholic beverages is ethanol, while the alcohol associated with ketonemia in a very low carb diet is
isopropanol. An alcohol breath test machine is supposed to measure the ethanol levels in the body, but can mistakenly read isopropanol as ethanol.
People suspected of drunk driving first submit to a roadside breath test. If the officers believes there is the presence of alcohol in their system, they are required to submit to an Evidentiary Breath Test (EBT) or blood or urine test.
Some breath test machines incorporate electrochemical detectors which respond to isopropanol. These machines cannot always distinguish isopropanol from ethanol which causes false-positive high levels of BAC from dieters who use very low carb diet.
However, some breath test machines use multi-filter infrared analysis and are designed to abort the breath test if acetone above the value set by the law of the state is detected in the person’s breath. The breath test machines with multi-filter infrared analysis should have no problem distinguishing ethanol from isopropanol because they use gas chromatography - but only under normal operating conditions.
Reliability of Breath Tests Results in Very Low Carb Dieters
The reliability of breath test machines used in DWI cases has long been questioned. It’s important to note that while these machines were designed and programmed by manufacturers with perfection in mind, these machines are not perfect. The evidentiary breath test machine results which are often used as evidence against the arrested DWI offenders in court can sometimes be erroneous. Many mechanical errors, operating errors, and human variables can affect their reading results.
When You’re On a Low Carb Diet and Fail the DWI Breath Test
If you’re pulled over by an officer, undergo a DWI breath test, and the breath test machine registers a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 or higher, you need to immediately contact an experienced DWI attorney. Let your attorney know as soon as possible that you’re in a low-carbohydrate diet or ketogenic diet so that they can determine the relevance to a defense of your DWI case.
What an Experienced DWI Attorney Can Do for Your DWI Case
An experienced Minnesota DWI lawyer will know how Minnesota breath test machines work and how they can possibly be challenged even if your breath result is higher than Minnesota’s driving limit, especially in a DWI case that involves ketogenic or low-carbohydrate diet.