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Breathalyzer Tests And Acid Reflux

It’s something that would likely surprise many Maryland drivers, but heartburn or severe acid reflux conditions can occasionally lead to inaccurate breathalyzer test results, falsely indicating that someone is impaired when they truly are not.

How does acid reflux work?

Millions of people across the country suffer from serious heartburn conditions including acid reflux disease or GERD, also known as gastro esophageal reflux disease. These people all have a condition which can cause regurgitation of a person’s stomach contents into the mouth. Normally this causes stomach acid to burn a person’s throat, but in some cases it can also cause undigested alcohol or alcohol vapors to rise into the mouth, leading to much higher BAC readings than are accurate.

Why the high readings?

Acid reflux can result in a misreading during breathalyzer tests when a person suffering from the condition consumes alcohol during or immediately prior to an episode. The resulting reflux pushes stomach acid mixed with alcohol out of the stomach and into that person’s mouth, leading to dramatically higher BAC readings as that person’s breath is full of far more alcohol than their blood. Some studies have shown that under the right circumstances, severe acid reflux can raise a person’s true BAC from 0.05 to 0.20 percent, four times the actual number.

Experts say that it’s important to understand that these issues can be found in a wide array of people, even those who do not suffer from chronic conditions like GERD. Almost anyone who occasionally has acid reflux or heartburn can have their breathalyzer results skewed if they are breath tested soon after eating an unusually large or spicy meal.

Need help with a Maryland traffic ticket or drunk driving offense? Call me at 301-563-9575 or 1-877-566-2408 for a free consultation. I’m an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer and I’d be happy to help. I practice law throughout the entire State of Maryland.