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How Can Ketones and Low-Carb Diets Cause a False Positive on Nevada DUI Breath Test?

Nevada DUI breath testing machines cannot always distinguish between different types of alcohols and certain compounds chemically similar can give a false positive result. The risk increases when the body has a higher concentration of ketones.

What are Ketones?

Ketones are acidic compounds that serve as the alternative fuel source for your body when there isn’t enough energy available from glucose. They are made in the liver from the breakdown of fat – a process called ketosis.

What Makes the Body Produce Ketones?

There are various factors – ranging from health conditions to lifestyle choices – that can make the body produce ketones. These include diabetes (hypoglycemia), malnutrition, fasting, and low-carb diets.

How Does a Low-Carb Diet Produce Ketones?

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for our body. When      broken down in the digestive system, they produce glucose, which serves as the fuel for the body.

A low-carb diet reduces the amount of glucose in the body, pushing it to use stored fat to generate energy for its various functions. As the body begins to burn fat, it produces ketones.

Several diets intentionally reduce the amount of carbohydrates in meals to push the body to burn stored fat to produce energy. Ketogenic, Paleo, and Atkins diets are the most popular diets that deliberately push the body into ketosis mode by strictly limiting the amount of carbohydrate intake.

Other factors that can cause carbohydrates insufficiency in the body and trigger ketosis include:

  • Fasting
  • Anorexia
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Not eating enough
  • Starvation

How Does Diabetes Produce Ketones?

Diabetes affects the body’s ability to burn/regulate glucose, pushing it to burn fat and protein to produce the energy required for various body functions. This leads to the production of ketones, as well as the buildup of glucose in the body, putting patients at risk of:

  • Dangerously high blood sugar levels due to glucose buildup in the blood
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis

What is Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

Diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, is a diabetic complication resulting from the presence of too many ketones in the body. It’s a life-threatening condition      when the liver produces ketones more rapidly than the body can excrete.

When the body is undergoing diabetic ketoacidosis, the patients may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Dry mouth or excessive thirst
  • Decreased coordination
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Flushed face
  • Fruity breath that’s similar to alcohol

Due to the similarity of symptoms and the breath, someone undergoing diabetic ketoacidosis may be mistaken to be under the influence of alcohol. They may even test positive on a breath test and be (wrongfully) charged with DUI.

What Can Cause Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

The lack of insulin in the body disrupts the process of glucose supply, causing cells to starve and making them unable to perform their functions. When the supply is not restored, the cells push the body to burn stored fats to provide energy for them. If this continues to happen, the body may begin to lag behind in utilizing ketones and excreting their byproducts, putting the body into diabetic ketoacidosis.

How Can Hypoglycemia Lead to a DUI Arrest in Nevada?

Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar can produce symptoms similar to excessive alcohol consumption. It can make you dizzy and shaky, increase your heartbeat, cause excessive sweating, and produce several other symptoms that alcohol causes. Moreover, hypoglycemia can put the body into ketosis, which then can give a false positive on a DUI breath test and get you arrested.

Can Non-Diabetic People Experience Hypoglycemia?

Extreme hypoglycemia is uncommon in healthy (non-diabetic) people, but they may sometimes experience it. The contributing factors include:

  • Kidney and liver disorders
  • Endocrine deficiencies
  • Pancreatic tumors that lead to insulin overproduction
  • Anorexia or strict diets that starve the body for a long term
  • Certain medications
  • Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol on an empty stomach

How Does the Presence of Ketones in the Body Affect the DUI Breath Test Result?

Like most other body processes, ketosis produces several byproducts besides the primary ketones. One of them is acetone, which metabolizes to isopropyl alcohol when you breathe out.

Isopropyl alcohol is different from the alcohol found in alcoholic drinks; the portable breath test machines that the police use are not always able to differentiate between the two. This can lead to a false positive and get you in trouble with the law.

How to Fight a False Positive DUI Case?

When you test positive on a DUI breath test, it can be hard to convince law enforcement personnel that you have not been drinking and that instead, it is because of your body being in ketosis. Therefore, when trapped in such a condition, hire an experienced Nevada DUI lawyer at your earliest to fight the charges the right way. A lawyer can help you challenge the DUI breath test and collect evidence to prove that the results came out positive due to your diet or medical condition. Contact us today for a case consultation and evaluation with an experienced Nevada DUI defense attorney at the Bourassa Law Group.

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