Law enforcement has a variety of investigative techniques at their disposal when attempting to determine whether a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In many cases, these investigative techniques are actually used to gather evidence rather than make such a determination, as many law enforcement officers formed a belief that a particular driver is drunk or otherwise impaired long before an arrest is made. In order to support that assertion, an investigating officer may request that a driver submit to a variety of tests, including standardized field sobriety tests or the chemical testing of their blood, breath, or urine.
One of the more commonly administered tests is known as a breathalyzer test. In order to perform this test, a person who is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is asked to blow into a small machine, known as a breathalyzer. The machine then analyzes the chemical composition of a person’s breath and uses an algorithm to arrive at a person’s purported blood alcohol content (BAC). It is important to note that the machine does not actually measure a person’s BAC, but rather the alcohol in his or her breath. Consequently, there is the possibility of a significant difference in the measurement obtained by the device and the amount of alcohol actually present in a person’s bloodstream.
Mouth alcohol and the GERD defense
Many people who have submitted to a breathalyzer and have subsequently been accused of DUI are under the mistaken impression that there are no defenses available to a breathalyzer reading that is over the legal limit. The reality is that there are often many defenses available, including one known commonly as the “GERD defense.” GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a condition in which the lower esophageal sphincter is weak or overly relaxed and allows the contents of the stomach to flow back into the esophagus, which is the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. Many people who suffer from GERD often experience heartburn and acid reflux.
In the context of a DUI case, the fact that a person has GERD can call the results of any breathalyzer test that was administered into question. As explained above, the accuracy of a breathalyzer depends on analyzing a person’s breath in order to determine what his or BAC is. If a person experiences reflux immediately prior to or during the administration of a breathalyzer test, it may result in alcohol from the stomach being forced back into the mouth. In turn, the presence of mouth alcohol may result in an inaccurately high breathalyzer reading.
Contact a Denver DUI defense attorney today to schedule a free consultation
It would be a tremendous mistake for one to assume that a DUI accusation will certainly result in a conviction. In many cases, an attorney can raise several procedural or substantive defenses that could result in a case being dismissed or in an acquittal. The attorneys of the Tiftickjian Law Firm are committed to helping people in and around the Denver area fight allegations of DUI. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call our office today at (303) DUI-5280.
Photo Credit: Keith Chastain via Compfight cc