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Can Smoking Affect a Breathalyzer Test Result?


Road accidents are a leading cause of death across the world. According to the World Health Organization, at least 1.3 million people lose their lives in road accidents yearly. This includes accidents involving cars, bicycles, trucks, or motorcycles. Therefore, if you are caught driving erratically, you may be pulled over by a police officer and subjected to a breathalyzer test. If this happens to you, call a DUI lawyer.

The breathalyzer test is not always accurate. That’s why DUI lawyers advise drivers to decline the test when pulled over by the police. Several factors affect the outcome of this test, and in this article, our lawyers discuss the possibility of smoking affecting a breathalyzer test result.

How Did Breathalyzer Tests Come About?

With so many people losing their lives in road crashes, the government tries to reduce the number of deaths through its various arms. One way in which it does this is by punishing offenders who drive carelessly or engage in other negligent behavior. For example, driving recklessly could put the police on alert while getting into an accident could draw their attention to you.

When this happens, they will try to discover if the person is acting under the influence of any substance. Therefore, the police may ask that a person take an alcohol test using a breathalyzer. A breathalyzer is a device that helps check for the level of alcohol in the blood. If it is above a specified limit (0.08%), the person would be arrested.

Breathalyzer tests have been used for a very long time. The earliest date known to many was 1874, when an English medical doctor named Francis Anstie discovered that small amounts of alcohol were excreted in the breath. Over the years, other scientists worked on different versions of the breathalyzer.

In 1927, a police surgeon testified to a suspect’s level of drunkenness after testing the level of alcohol in his breath. By 1931, the first roadside breathalyzer was developed by Rolla Harger of the Indiana University School of Medicine. Since then, breathalyzers have been used to test the sobriety of drivers.

Can Smoking Affect the Results of a Breathalyzer Test?

While breathalyzers are supposed to test the alcohol level in the blood, their results are not always accurate. This is because they can be influenced by other factors. The alcohol level in a person could be affected by other things that are not precisely alcohol. For example, someone who works with paint could find out that they failed a breathalyzer test. Similarly, people who use asthma inhalers could also report a high alcohol concentration.

Smoking can affect the results of a breathalyzer test in two ways. On the one hand, it may lead to high readings, while on the other hand, it could result in low alcohol readings. Either way, it could skew the results of a breathalyzer test. We’ll briefly look at how this could happen below.

Breathalyzer tests cannot distinguish between alcohol and acetaldehyde. It is produced by the liver as a byproduct of metabolizing alcohol. Research has shown that this compound is significantly higher in smokers than in non-smokers. Therefore, if you smoke and undergo a breathalyzer test, you may discover that it reports a high alcohol level in your body.

Another way smoking affects the accuracy of breathalyzer tests is gastric emptying. This refers to the process by which the stomach contents are moved into the duodenum. Smoking has been reported to slow down the rate of gastric emptying. Similarly, it slows down the rate of alcohol absorption in the body.

Get an Experienced DUI Lawyer to Represent You!

Getting stopped by law enforcement on suspicion of driving under the influence is a nightmare for anybody. If you are found guilty, the damage could be great. In most cases, you may lose your driving privileges for a while, get imprisoned, or even fined. Beyond this, a DUI conviction could affect your career or personal relationships.

If you smoke and ever get into such a situation, you may likely fail the breathalyzer test. Therefore, you must speak to a DUI attorney as soon as possible. Every second that passes without you getting help is crucial and could determine your fate.

You can always speak to a DUI lawyer from the Trilogy Law Group. We know how important this is, and we do our best to provide our clients with the best legal representation. Our lawyers would be in charge of gathering evidence and representing you. In addition, you will be given appropriate advice on what to do or say during this process. So get in touch with us today.