Texas Man Gets Drunk Without Drinking

DUI lawyers often report that some people are arrested who have not been drinking, but who blow positive in a breath test. The reasons vary from person to person, with some having odd medical conditions and others having taken medication which simulates alcohol.

A man in Texas was reported recently being “drunk” on a regular basis, even though he hadn’t been drinking. He didn’t get caught for DUI but his wife was so concerned that she actually went out and bought a breathalyzer, worried that he would “drink” and drive. According to his wife he would regularly show symptoms of being drunk after going to church on Sunday, or “at any time”.

The condition that the man was suffering from was revealed eventually when he felt so ill that he went to the hospital, complaining of dizziness. Doctors at first thought that he was a secret alcoholic as he tested five times the legal limit for alcohol (0.08% in Texas and here in Florida) despite claiming he hadn’t been drinking.

It took a more detailed look at what was happening before a rare condition was diagnosed. It appeared that the man had a surplus of brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces) in his stomach. The yeast was naturally fermenting any sugars or other carbohydrates that were accumulating in that part of his digestive system. The alcohol produced by this unseen fermentation was giving the man the symptoms of drunkenness that he and his wife had been noticing.

According to a report in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine, the condition is known as auto-brewery syndrome or Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It doesn’t happen very often, simply because the particular strain of yeast which ferments any surplus carbohydrate is not normally present in the gut.

One of the reasons that many DUI lawyers are cautious about DUI arrests is that breathalyzers and other chemical tests do not necessarily only test positive for the alcohol in alcoholic drinks. In fact, they can respond to a small number of other chemical substances that trigger similar results in the machine, despite not making someone drunk. In some medical conditions, substances called ketones are released by the body and can be found in the breath.  Ketones can be mistaken for alcohol by the breathalyzer machine and someone can be arrested for DUI despite them not having had a drink.

In other cases of testing error, solvents used in certain medications may have a certain amount of alcohol in them and if taken orally not long before the person is stopped by police, may indicate they have a “blood alcohol” content which is over the limit. Another source of error can come from sanitary wipes which are routinely used in cleaning equipment, including the equipment used in testing for alcohol content. These wipes have a small amount of ethanol – the same alcohol in alcoholic drinks – and if used too liberally can mean that a test result is inaccurate.

Stories like the auto-brewery syndrome in Texas may make for humorous reading, but for those few people who have been arrested for DUI because of a false alcohol test, the situation is serious. DUI penalties are severe here in Florida and it takes a knowledgeable and tenacious DUI lawyer to unravel what has gone wrong when someone is wrongly arrested. 

How your health can affect a BAC test

If you have been arrested on a charge of driving under the influence (DUI), your health can have a big effect on the outcome of the tests taken to see if you are drunk. You could even be charged for DUI because of a pre existing health problem you had, or medicines you were taking at the time you were arrested and not because you had been drinking. You shouldn’t give in to these sorts of errors. You need the help of a DUI lawyer to fight the charges against you and clear your name.

Your health can affect everything about the way law enforcement offices decide if you are DUI. This can start as soon as you are pulled over by a police officer. If you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI, the police officer will ask you to complete a set of physical tests called field sobriety tests. Before this happens, he or she may also smell your breath and look at the state of your eyes. You could be giving off an odor which the officer thinks is alcohol, when in fact it has been caused by medicine you have taken, like cough medicine or a health condition like diabetes. You may perform badly on the sobriety tests simply because of ill health, tiredness or nervousness. If you think your health could affect these tests it is better to refuse to do them and explain why when you do.

If the police officer takes you back to a police station you will be asked to take a blood alcohol content (BAC) test. There are different types, but the most common one used in Florida is the breath test. There are many well known errors with all of these chemical tests, which have nothing to do with your health. But if you have an existing health problem, it could exaggerate your BAC reading, or put you over the legal limit of 0.08%, even if you had not drunk any alcohol at all. If you have a health problem, or have been taking drugs or medicine that could affect the result you should point this out at the time the test is taken.

The main problem with the breath and blood tests is that they don’t actually measure alcohol directly at all, but measure anything that is chemically similar. That means you could be breathing out something that has been caused by an illness or a solvent for a medicine and the test machine would not know the difference.

Drugs for heart disease, cholesterol, blood thinning as well as cough medicines can all mimic or produce higher than normal BAC readings.

Anything that causes you to release stomach acid into your mouth like GERD, heartburn, burping, belching or regurgitation can also cause a false reading as the breathalyzer cannot tell the difference between this and alcohol that has come from drinking. 20% of U.S. drivers are diabetics and when their glucose levels are low, they can release chemicals in their mouth (ketones) which cause a high BAC reading.

Don’t expect the law enforcement in Florida to take much notice of you, if you tell them of any health or medical issues. They are determined to get a conviction, as it raises their profile. You will need to have a solid defense against any DUI charge if you are to get off.

A good DUI lawyer knows how health issues can lead to you being falsely charged for DUI and will be able to use this to your advantage. He or she can successfully fight your case in court and get your DUI charge dropped, or at least reduced or minimized. A DUI conviction might haunt you for the rest of your life. Fight your charge with a DUI lawyer.

What is Florida’s Implied Consent Law?

If you have been stopped anywhere in Florida under suspicion that you have been drinking and driving, you will probably be asked to carry out some tests outside your car. The police call these sobriety tests as they are supposed to give an idea of how sober you might be. The tests include things like walking in a straight line and turning, standing on one foot and counting or reciting the alphabet. The policeman who has stopped you will probably smell your breath at the same time and may even ask you to use a field breathalyzer.

These tests can be biased, as it depends on the policeman’s personal judgment as to whether you are drunk or not. You are not forced to do these tests. You can refuse to do them, but you will probably be arrested for DUI anyway and your license will be seized immediately. You will also have to go to the nearest police station and be asked to take a test to measure your blood alcohol content or BAC.

If you have a Florida license you may remember something called “implied consent” when you got your license. In fact, these words are written in small letters on your driver license. It means that in this state you are only allowed to drive because you have agreed that you will take a blood or breath test for blood alcohol if you are arrested for drunk driving. This is why it is called “implied consent”. You have consented to take a test when asked to do so in exchange for being allowed to drive.

In fact, if you have been already arrested for DUI and taken to a police station, you still have the right to refuse to take a blood or breath test, unless you have been involved in an accident in which somebody has been seriously injured or killed. If you refuse, then you must realize that there are some serious consequences. Your license will be suspended automatically for 12 months for a first refusal. If it is the second time you have refused, then your license will be suspended for 18 months and you will be charged with a 1st degree misdemeanor.

This could mean a big fine or jail or both. Your charge could also be added to the charge of DUI if you are convicted of that offense. Your refusal can and probably will be used as evidence against you in court, even though the police have no results of a blood test for alcohol. The prosecutor will say that your refusal is evidence that you were knowingly drunk.

Whatever you choose to do when arrested for DUI, you are best getting a good Tampa DUI lawyer to represent you, even if you have refused a BAC test. Most lawyers will generally recommend that you do not refuse to take a BAC test as the consequences of refusing can be as bad as or even worse than being DUI. Also, a good DUI lawyer knows how to tackle your DUI arrest and charge by examining every step of the arrest carefully and critically.

DUI lawyers can get you off a DUI charge or at least get the sentence minimized. You can still choose to refuse to take an alcohol test, but Florida’s implied consent laws mean you will be penalized quite severely.

Blood Alcohol Tests When Arrested for DUI in Tampa, Florida

If you are arrested while driving under the influence (DUI) in Tampa, Florida it is serious and you might lose your license, pay a fine, go to jail or have to use an ignition interlock device fitted to your car, even if you are still allowed to drive. The sentence will be harsher if it is a second offense or if someone has been injured or killed because of your driving. A test of your blood alcohol content (BAC) will be important evidence the police will use when charging you with Tampa DUI.

There are different ways that a law enforcement officer can test your blood alcohol level. None of them are completely foolproof and there have been serious criticisms of the way these tests have been carried out, or of the accuracy of the test used. Every year in tampa there are, probably, many people who are convicted of DUI because of a BAC test which is inaccurate, but the person has been too timid to challenge it.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Tampa and have been charged because a blood test showed you were above the legal limit (0.08%), then you should hire a DUI lawyer to help you fight the charge. There are many ways in which a good DUI lawyer can get you off the charge completely or at least get you a lesser sentence.

When you are taken to the police station, you will be asked if you agree to take a blood alcohol test and you will be reminded of Florida’s “implied consent” law. This law means you can be penalized if you refuse to take the test because you have already “consented” to take a test, if necessary, when you were given your license.

DUI lawyers recommend that it is better for you to take the test, but suggest you record anything you notice about the way in which it was taken.

There are two different types of test commonly used in Florida and neither is free from errors. The most common test is the breath test. You have to breathe into a tube which causes a reaction between any alcohol in your breath and a chemical in the machine that changes color. The other test used is a blood test. A blood sample is taken and it is analyzed in a lab for alcohol content. Sometimes you might be asked to have a urine test.

These tests have shown time and time again that they are not free of errors. The equipment can be faulty; the officers using them may be untrained, poorly trained or make mistakes. The samples may be lost or contaminated. Your own health or things that you have taken, like food or medicines, can affect the result.

When you talk to your DUI lawyer, give a detailed description of everything that happened from the time you were stopped in your car. Explain what you had to drink, if anything, and what health factors may have affected your blood tests. Describe how the officer treated you and how the tests were taken.

A good DUI lawyer will be able to assess where the weaknesses in your DUI charge lie. He or she will want to examine how tests were taken and how reliable they were.

Many DUI charges are thrown out of court because of the way BAC tests are taken or measured. Your DUI lawyer may be able to get you off a DUI charge or have the charge reduced. A DUI charge can affect you and your family for a lifetime. Fight your DUI charge with the help of a good DUI lawyer!