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Asthma and a Breathalyzer

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If you recently were arrested for a DUI in the greater Denver area, you need an attorney who understands your individual situation, including the details of the incident as well as your medical history. You also want a DUI attorney who is going to “leave no stone unturned” in preparing and executing a strategy to minimize the impact on your life. Below we take a close look at how. 

Late one night, the cops pull you over on suspicion of drunk driving. “I smell alcohol on your breath,” the policeman says. “Blow into this.”

You try to comply, but because of your asthma, you just can’t blow as hard as the average person. The cop becomes frustrated and thinks you’re trying to dodge the Breathalyzer results. He hauls you into the back of his car, and off you go to jail.

Asthma and a Breathalyzer do not go well together. If you have asthma or other respiratory conditions, you could unfairly face fines or jail time even though you weren’t intoxicated.

How Does a Breathalyzer Work?

Breathalyzers haven’t changed much since law enforcement began using them about 50 years ago. To take a test, you simply blow into the device. It then checks for the presence of alcohol in the second half of your breath.

Breathalyzers are problematic for people with small lungs. They must provide a higher breath sample volume (exhale more air) than a person with average-sized lungs. This can cause the test to detect a higher alcohol concentration in their breath.

Breathalyzers Spell Trouble for Asthma Sufferers

Like people with small lungs, those with asthma can run into trouble if asked to take a Breathalyzer test. Here’s why:

  • They suffer from airflow restriction, making it difficult to expel a full breath. Often, this translates into inaccurate test results because the Breathalyzer detects higher alcohol concentration than is present.
  • Police may interpret an inability to perform a Breathalyzer test as a refusal, charging people with asthma with DUI regardless of whether or not they’re intoxicated.
  • Asthma medications, such as Albuterol and Budesonide, linger in the airways and can cause a false positive on a Breathalyzer test.

Asthma isn’t the only thing that can throw off Breathalyzer results. Results can be inaccurate because of:

  • High ketone levels
  • Digestive disorders, such as GERD and acid reflux
  • Mouthwashes, breath sprays, and oral pain relievers
  • Alcohol-based medications

Contact our firm if you need a good legal defense because of asthma and a Breathalyzer.

What Can You Do If You Failed a Breathalyzer?

If you’ve failed a Breathalyzer because of your asthma, it’s not the end of the road for you. Here’s what to do:

  • Inform the officer that you have asthma immediately after they pull you over. In Colorado, if you are arrested for DUI, you have the option to choose either a blood or breath test, so you may want to choose the blood test.
  • Provide medical documentation of your condition if you have to go to court. Bring proof of inhaler use and any medications you’re taking.
  • Call a DUI lawyer. Your attorney may be able to have breath test results thrown out. For instance, if the officer didn’t perform Breathalyzer calibration before testing you, the results may be invalid and thus unusable in court.

Facing a DUI in Denver? Contact Churchill Criminal Defense

If you’re facing a DUI charge because of a failed Breathalyzer, contact Churchill Criminal Defense. We can help you understand how asthma and a Breathalyzer impact one another.

Call (303) 832-0970 for a free consultation.