Like other states across the United States, South Carolina law stipulates that driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal. If suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, a driver pulled over by law enforcement can expect to be asked to submit to a test using the Datamaster breath test machine. In order for this request to be in line South Carolina’s regulations, the officer must already be recording the encounter and provide the driver with an implied consent notice (as per Section 56-5-2950 of Title 56, South Carolina Code of Laws) along with identifying the consequences of refusing a breathalyzer test.
In South Carolina, a driver who is of legal drinking age (21 or over) with a result of .08 BAC or greater can be arrested on a DUI charge. Underage drivers can be arrested for anything at or higher than a result of .02 BAC, while commercial drivers are only allowed to be under .04 BAC. A DUI conviction can result in thousands of dollars’ worth of legal fees and a one-year license suspension.
Medications & Medical Conditions that Can Impact the Datamaster Machine
Sometimes the results of the Datamaster machine can be wrong. Specifically, some medications and certain medical conditions can negatively affect the Datamaster and lead to a false positive. For example, the following medications and conditions are high-risks for false positive results:
Asthma medications: some asthma inhalers inject a concentrated mist with up to 34 percent alcohol into the lungs, which a breathalyzer will incorrectly assume is in the blood itself. In addition, a multitude of other chemicals that constitute the formula could be interpreted as being alcohol, further distorting a test result.
Nyquil and OTC medications: cough medications contain alcohol and can make a breathalyzer think that a person is intoxicated. In usual cases, however, a breathalyzer will return an improbably high BAC content if a driver has just consumed cough syrup with alcohol in it; the officer should interpret this as being grounds for waiting another few minutes before resuming the test.
Anbesol: this medication, used to relieve pain from toothaches, canker sores, and cold sores, is 70% alcohol. This oral gel could fool a breathalyzer into thinking that a massive amount of alcohol has been consumed when, in fact, none has. Ideally, the breathalyzer would, as in the case of cough syrup, return an improbably high result that the officer would interpret as being a false positive.
Fumes: common substances used in paint removers and lacquers – such as methyl ethyl ketone – could result in a false positive. A painter who is constantly in contact with these substances could blow into a breathalyzer and return a high BAC, as breathalyzers interpret the chemicals as being alcohol and do not have the capacity to distinguish between the two.
Mouthwash: since mouthwash retains a high alcohol content and lingers in the mouth for an extended duration of time, it too can cause a breathalyzer to return a false positive. There have been many reported cases of drivers using mouthwash and being erroneously charged with a D.U.I.
Acid reflux: when a person suffers from acid reflux, alcohol from the stomach can be discharged into the esophagus and mouth. Even though the actual BAC could be far lower, a high result can be established by the breathalyzer because it will detect a high presence of alcohol in the mouth and assume that the result is coming from the lungs.
Ketones: those following a low-carb diet can an excess of ketones – a result of the body’s conversion processes involving burned fats – and these bodies can trigger a breathalyzer into thinking that the driver is drunk when no alcohol has been consumed.
Because there are so many scenarios that can cause a Datamaster to be inaccurate, it is important to seek legal advice from a DUI defense attorney. Contact me for a free consult. Together, we’ll examine whether your test was inaccurate and how to use this situation for a positive outcome in your case.