Question: What are some medical conditions that could affect the breath alcohol test in Maryland?
Answer: Well the one that immediately comes to mind is acidosis or diabetics. Diabetic acidosis can affect it. People that are on low carb diets could conceivably affect the breath test in Maryland. Conceivably. Now, Maryland has with the ECIR II, they are now attempting to use the slope detectors. Which, slope detectors attempt to detect the level of alcohol that somebody exhales and looks for a big drop from an initial exhale to the subsequent exhaling the person does, and the slope detectors, if they find such a thing, are supposed to eliminate the blow or otherwise recognize that the blow is not valid.
And sometimes when people have, well, I guess in that specific example a better one would be mouth alcohol. So, somebody had some alcohol in their mouth if they had dentures in their mouth, if they had some braces, gum, something like this, that would trap alcohol in their mouth, at least initially, and therefore give a very high initial blow. A detector like that would identify that condition or is supposed to identify that condition. I think that there is some contests as to whether or not that actually happens or not, but that’s the scenario.
So, when it comes to something like mouth alcohol, the slope detectors, the machines themselves also have other internal testing mechanisms that are supposed to be able to tell the difference between acidosis and ethanol, and the police, of course, those than can even speak on the topic, would argue that their machines can tell the difference. The defense and the defense experts would argue that they can’t do that, you know, tell the difference, to a legal degree of specificity.
But, these are conditions; we’ve certainly had cases with diabetics, people that are diabetic seizures, you know we’ve certainly seen that before and these arguments can be made and certainly should be evaluated at the time that the person is charged with a DUI, particularly if they were somewhat delirious or got involved in an accident or otherwise acting.
The problem is people, when they act a certain way when they are out of it, right, it can be because of alcohol potentially, but it can also be because someone is in a diabetic state, low sugar, high sugar for example. It makes people act the same way. So it’s actually a fairly difficult thing to identify, but these are things that can cause problems in sort of the pursuit and the defense of DUI cases.