Breath tests or breathalyzers in Pennsylvania drunk driving cases are increasingly common despite their shortcomings. While a blood test is more precise in determining a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC), a breath test is far more convenient. It is possible to administer a blood test anywhere, but it requires considerable preparation. In Pennsylvania, breath tests to measure a driver’s BAC are performed according to the basic principle known as Henry’s Law.
How Does Henry’s Law Affect Breath Tests in Pennsylvania?
According to Henry’s Law, whenever a liquid containing a volatile substance, like alcohol, contacts air in a closed container, like through a breath test, the concentration of alcohol in the air and the liquid are the equivalent. Breath testing devices gauge alcohol concentration in a person’s breath and multiply it by a predefined coefficient to calculate a person’s approximate BAC. That is how breath testing depends on scientific theories and measurements.
Since breath tests assess alcohol concentration in a person’s body through their breath, it is essential to establish whether any medical conditions could negatively affect the results. Further, it’s critical to determine whether a medical condition, like diabetes, might cause a driver’s breath test result to show that they are intoxicated when, indeed, their disease was the cause for the higher BAC reading.
How Does Diabetes Play a Role in DUI Defense?
If you have diabetes and have been arrested for driving under the influence, a skilled DUI defense attorney may potentially use your condition as part of your defense. When someone has diabetes, their body does not effectively use or produce enough insulin, which is a hormone that converts food into energy.
There are two types of diabetes individuals may be diagnosed:
- Type 1 Diabetes: Typically diagnosed in adolescents or children, this type of diabetes affects about 5-10% of the population and causes the body to stop producing insulin.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Representing the vast majority of the population who suffer from diabetes, this type either causes the body not to produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells ignore the insulin already produced.
When you provide a breath sample, the machine measures more than just the alcohol concentration. Breath tests in Pennsylvania use infrared spectrometry, which also picks up acetone, a byproduct of a metabolic state called Ketoacidosis, which can negatively impact breath test results.
Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes often experience diabetic Ketoacidosis, which can cause their breath to smell fruity. Should a police officer stop them while driving and smell their breath, they may confuse this smell with alcohol and suspect they are drunk driving.
How Does Acetone Affect Breath Testing in Pennsylvania?
Acetone is naturally occurring and is usually present in the body after the breakdown of fat. Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes usually have higher acetone levels in their breath, which can be falsely identified as ethanol. As a result, the breath test may show they are driving with a BAC over the legal limit, even if they have not consumed alcohol at all.
How Can an Experienced DUI Lawyer in Montgomery County Help?
If the breath test does not measure the level of acetone in a person’s breath, the prosecution won’t differentiate ethanol from acetone. That can create a reasonable doubt about the breath test’s findings or cause the judge to rule that the results are inadmissible.
If your DUI defense lawyer is going to argue a defense based on diabetes, you must provide them with the following pieces of information:
- When you were diagnosed with diabetes
- Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes
- The primary care physician who treats your diabetes
- Blood glucose testing records when applicable
- Details of your eating habits
- The time of your last insulin injection before being stopped by police
- What time you last had a meal or snack before being pulled over
Your lawyer cannot assert a defense strategy founded on diabetes without this information. Further, in Pennsylvania, defense lawyers are required to provide this information to the prosecution per the rules of criminal procedure.
Talk to Seasoned DUI Defense Lawyers in Montgomery County for Free Today
If you’re facing DUI charges in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and have diabetes, get in touch with the skilled DUI defense lawyers at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C. In the event diabetes may be asserted as a defense to a DUI charge, we are prepared to walk you through each step, ask the right questions, and build a powerful defense to your charges.
For over 65 years, our legal professionals have advocated for clients accused of drunk driving throughout Montgomery County, Bucks County, and Southeastern Pennsylvania. Speak to one of our experienced DUI defense lawyers about your situation over a free consultation by completing a contact form or call 215-822-7575 today.