Causes of Mouth Alcohol That May Affect Your Orange County DUI Case
Experienced Orange County DUI lawyers know that breath test results are not always correct. When a DUI attorney exposes flaws in a breath test, the prosecutor may dismiss the case or offer a favorable plea.
One of the principal causes of error in breath alcohol analysis is mouth alcohol.
The Science Behind the Mouth Alcohol Defense
If there is alcohol in your mouth when you are taking a breath test, even just a little, your test results will be significantly elevated. Mouth alcohol can be caused by recent eating or drinking, belching, burping, hiccupping, or regurgitation.
The breath test is supposed to test the air in your lungs, not your mouth. The breath testing machine converts the alcohol concentration in the breath to a blood alcohol concentration. It does this by multiplying the alcohol in the breath sample by 2,100, which is the assumed ratio between the amount of alcohol in the blood and the amount in the breath. Therefore, even a very small amount of mouth alcohol is magnified when the conversion is done.
Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD) and Silent Regurgitation
As experienced Orange County DUI lawyers, we have met with clients who suffer from a medical condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. GERD is a chronic digestive disease that occurs when stomach acid or, occasionally, bile flows back (refluxes) into your food pipe (esophagus). Breath testing machines are designed to measure alcohol from the breath deep in the lungs. GERD can cause falsely high breath test results when alcohol from the stomach enters the mouth and then is exhaled.
If alcohol is still in the stomach from recent drinking, a person with GERD has constant mouth alcohol. Although mouth alcohol dissipates rapidly, a person with GERD has a constant reflux/regurgitation that is continually injecting stomach alcohol into the mouth. Because of this, mouth alcohol will remain as long as there is alcohol in the stomach. This condition will interfere with breath testing that relies on uncontaminated air from deep in the lungs for accurate results.
To take full advantage of this defense your diagnosis of GERD will need to be confirmed with appropriate medical tests. However, if you have been diagnosed with GERD, you have one of the strongest defenses that could be used in breath test cases.
Blood From Mouth and Nose Injuries
If you were injured, blood in the mouth or nose at the time of the breath test can affect your results adversely. The blood could have resulted from internal injuries; mouth injuries; or injuries to the nose. With these injuries, the blood can enter the breath test machine’s mouthpiece tube or sample chamber, resulting in a spraying or splattering of blood into the tube as you blow into the machine. This will skew the reading once the 2,100 to 1 ratio is used to convert breath alcohol to blood alcohol.
Get Help With Your Orange County DUI Case
The mouth alcohol defense has been used successfully in drunk driving cases. If this is something that you experience, you need an attorney with special training in this area. He or she will go over your medical history and send you for tests if necessary. The Orange County DUI lawyers at Coffey and Coffey have experience with defending DUI cases involving mouth alcohol and can gather the evidence needed to build an effective defense to your DUI case. For a free consultation, please contact us at (800) 706-7888 today.