What health conditions can affect blood alcohol readings?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2023 | Criminal Defense, DWI-DUI

When law enforcement officers suspect that a driver is under the influence of alcohol, the information that they obtain from a breath test to affirm their suspicion may not necessarily be accurate. Blood Alcohol Concentration readings from a breath test may not be reliable or conclusive..

Various health conditions can affect how a device reads a person’s BAC levels. Consider a couple of the most common examples.


When a diabetic person’s blood glucose is too high, he or she may experience diabetic ketoacidosis. In fact, people with severe diabetes experience continual ketoacidosis, which can occur even when their blood sugar is in normal range.

Ketoacidosis prompts the body to produce excessive amounts of acetone. Devices that measure BAC cannot always distinguish acetone from alcohol.

Acid reflux

People with gastrointestinal problems involving acid reflux typically associate this condition with chronic heartburn and similar symptoms after eating and drinking. When esophageal reflux causes indigestion, the acids that the body produces to digest food and beverages move upwards into the chest and throat rather than downwards into the stomach. For some people, esophageal hernias may obstruct the natural flow of acids in the digestive process.

Reflux may result in an excessive concentration of alcohol in a person’s throat. Resultantly, a device that measures BAC in a person’s breath may generate inflated readings.

Lastly, it is important to note that certain medications that a person takes to treat a medical condition can affect BAC measurements. Asthma medicines, antihistamines or muscle relaxants can impact test results.