The Keto Diet Might Cause You To Fail A Breathalyzer
First off, we do not condone drunk driving. Not only is this behavior dangerous to the whole of civil society, it sure-as-shit can lead to legal hassles that’ll have you feeling fragments of the judge’s gavel lodged firmly inside your asshole for the next decade or more. It’s one of the reasons that apps like Uber are the most ingenious creations to hit the scene. But, let’s face it, even the most responsible idiot experiences a lapse in common sense from time to time, jumping into the driver’s seat after more than a few cocktails and motoring it home with one eye closed in an attempt to keep it between the mailboxes. If you’re lucky, you’ll make it to your destination without killing yourself or someone else. You might even evade law enforcement and the $10,000 price tag that comes with getting behind the wheel with a beer buzz or on the Keto Diet.
Apparently, booze is no longer the only culprit leading the DUIs in the United States. The Keto Diet, a popular nutritional regime consisting of low carbs and high fat, is apparently causing people to fail sobriety tests, according to a recent article from Men’s Health.
The story, which surrounds a case fought by Houston-based defense attorney Jay Cohen, indicates that being in ketosis – a metabolic state that happens when one consumes a carbohydrate-free diet — can bring about a false positive in a breathalyzer. It is a discrepancy brought about through the creation of acetone in the liver, and that chemical is released from the breath as isopropyl alcohol.
Some breathalyzers, especially the cheaper ones, cannot distinguish between isopropyl alcohol and ethanol alcohol – found in beer, wine and spirits – which makes it possible for a person on the keto diet to look like a drunkard if they are pushed into the unfortunate realm of a sobriety test.
Although most of the breath test technology used by law enforcement (fuel cell-based breathalyzers) are supposed to tell the difference between isopropyl alcohol and ethanol alcohol, Cohen argues that no scientific evidence proves this. Furthermore, studies examining this phenomenon over the year have found that “under some circumstances, acetone can be converted in the body to isopropanol, and that is oxidized like ethanol by fuel cell breath analyzers.”
So, if a motorist has a few beers and is also in a state of ketosis, “we don’t know that the fuel cell devices can differentiate,” Cohen said.
Incidentally, this is the argument he made for one of his clients, which Cohen describes as “in great shape,” after he got slapped with a DUI. The charges were eventually dropped and the man walked free.
In spite of this, makers of fuel cell breathalyzers contest the notion that their tests are volatile to the effects of the keto diet. Keith Nothacker, the CEO of BACtrack, a California-based breathalyzer manufacturer, says his company’s tests are “ethanol-specific” and will not create a false positive due to the presence of isopropyl. “In 17 years of business, it’s never been a problem,” he said.
When a person gets arrested for DUI, they are typically taken into booking and given another breath test called Infrared Spectroscopy. It is supposed to be more accurate than the roadside breathalyzers, but some legal experts argue that this test, too, can provide false positives. Recent studies in Tennessee and Vermont have shown that this machine “did not produce results which could satisfactorily be relied upon for the prosecution of DUI (OVI) offenses,” Dayton, Ohio defense attorney Charles M. Rowland II wrote in a blog post. This breath test has also been also proven to be a bit of a hack job in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota.
But for the sober person wrongly accused of drinking and driving, the Infrared Spectroscopy test provides the best chance at proving their innocence.
So, if I’m drunk, I can just tell the cops I’m on keto?
Not exactly. A person is going to have a difficult time convincing the police and the courts that it was the keto diet that caused them to fail a breath test if they are legit drunk as fuck when they were pulled over. Cops typically just don’t rip someone out of their vehicle and make them submit to a breathalyzer for no reason. They are trained to spot specific behavior, which can lead to them asking the dreaded question, “Have you been drinking this evening?” This is where the situation gets tricky, as your reaction, your answer will determine whether the officer takes it up a notch and requests a field sobriety test. In a lot of states, failing to go along with it can lead to an automatic DUI conviction. So, be sure to familiarize yourself with the laws in your neck of the woods.
The keto diet defense could only be effectively used in those cases where a motorist was arrested after having a couple of drinks – where the person was not noticeably smashed but just happened to have a run-in with an asshole cop. This is because acetone – the chemical created in a state of ketosis – can only cause a person blow right around .08. So, registering twice the legal limit and screaming “keto diet” is not likely to convince the courts that the arrest was a mistake.
Again, drinking and driving is never a good idea. And getting hammered and telling the cops that you failed all of their sobriety tests because you just don’t eat pasta and potatoes anymore is not a solid enough defense.
But it is essential to understand that there are misalignments of science out there that can get a person jammed up in the criminal justice system even if they are acting responsibly. Don’t let yourself get fucked over, and always remember… taking a $20 Uber ride, even if you do it every day for a year, is still cheaper than the average cost of a DUI.
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