Los Angeles DUI and Gerd
When a driver is arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, he or she will be given the option of taking either a breath test or a blood test. Many drivers choose the breath test, because it is quick and non-invasive and does not involve needles. Many police officers actively encourage drivers to take the breath test, because unlike the blood test it can be completed at the police station and can provide immediate BAC results. However, breath test results can be affected by a number of factors. This is often the case for drivers who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (“GERD”), which can lead to falsely elevated BAC readings on Breathalyzer devices.
GERD, as well as conditions such as acid reflux and heartburn, occur when stomach acid flows up into a person’s esophagus, which connects the stomach to the throat. For people who suffer from this condition, stomach acid and stomach contents will flow back up into the esophagus and sometimes into a person’s mouth. This can affect the accuracy of any subsequent breath test taken on a Breathalyzer device.
When a person drinks alcohol, the majority of the alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream while in a person’s stomach and small intestine. When a person tests on a Breathalyzer device, the machine is measuring deep-lung air which is close to that person’s blood supply and is considered to give an accurate measurement of the concentration of alcohol in the person’s blood. However, if the test taker has alcohol that is in his or her mouth, this “mouth alcohol” would affect the results of the breath test.
For example, if a sober person consumes one shot of alcohol and immediately takes a blood test, he or she would have a BAC close to zero because the alcohol would not have time to absorb into the test taker’s blood. However, if she or she takes a breath test immediately after taking a shot, the BAC reading would be extremely elevated because the Breathalyzer device would pick up the alcohol in the person’s mouth, throat and stomach. Because of this, Title 17 requires that before a person takes a test on a Breathalyzer, an officer must watch the person for 15 minutes to ensure that that he or she does not eat or drink anything or does not belch or regurgitate, as these actions will throw off the BAC results.
While Title 17 tries to solve the problems associated with reflux by having an officer observe the DUI suspect for 15 minutes before testing on the Breathalyzer, people who suffer from GERD or other reflux diseases may not even be aware that they are experiencing reflux. In fact, many people who suffer from GERD are not even aware that they have this condition. GERD is generally considered to be an underreported condition.
Normally, the lower esophageal sphincter (“LES”) opens to allow food and liquids that are consumed to pass from the esophagus to the stomach and then immediate closes up. For those who suffer from GERD and other related conditions, the LES does not close fully or will open and stomach contents will go back into the individual’s esophagus, throat and mouth.
For drivers who have taken the breath test, it may be necessary to obtain a medical expert witness to prepare a report or testify regarding the defendant’s medical condition and why something like GERD may have affected the results of the Breathalyzer test.
If you have been arrested for DUI and believe that a reflux condition may have affected your BAC results, it is imperative that you speak with a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer right away. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Attorney Michael Kraut works with the top experts in the field and understands how conditions such as GERD may lead to wrongful DUI arrests.
For more information about Los Angeles DUI and GERD, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.