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Did Your Heartburn Get You a DUI? The GERD Defense

a man holding his stomach in pain

A police officer who stops your vehicle and believes that you were drinking can—and likely will—ask you to give a breath sample. If the breathalyzer test reveals that your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is 0.08 percent or more, the officer can charge you with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).

Understand, however, that breathalyzer tests are not always accurate. While some legal defenses to DUI charges stem from illegal traffic stops or improperly functioning breathalyzer equipment, another less familiar defense is the GERD defense.

GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease—more commonly known as acid reflux disease, or simply heartburn. GERD can significantly affect breathalyzer test results and can produce a false reading.

If you are charged with a DUI after taking a breathalyzer test, and you currently suffer from GERD, you may have a solid legal defense to your charge. The knowledgeable St. Petersburg DUI defense lawyers at Khonsari Law Group can review the circumstances of your charge, as well as your medical condition, and can determine whether you may assert a GERD defense to your DUI charge.

How Breathalyzer Testing Machines Work

A police officer who believes that a driver is operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol may pull the driver over as part of a routine traffic stop. If the driver submits to a breathalyzer test, and the blood alcohol concentration meets or exceeds the legal limit, then the officer can arrest the driver for drunk driving on the spot.

Although, generally speaking, breathalyzer machines do a good job of pinpointing a driver’s BAC, they are not infallible. A breathalyzer machine uses infrared technology to determine the amount of alcohol on an individual’s breath. The machine measures the driver’s “deep lung air” which coincides with the amount of blood in the driver’s bloodstream at a given time. However, breathalyzer machines cannot differentiate between “deep lung air” and other types of air. In other words, the sample that the machine collects may have originated from the driver’s stomach, mouth, or throat.

Acid-reflux occurs when the contents of a person’s stomach (which can obviously include alcohol) moves from the stomach up through the esophagus. A driver who takes the breathalyzer test and suffers from longstanding acid-reflux disease may always have alcohol present in the mouth. When that happens, the breathalyzer machine could produce a false reading, thereby leading to a false arrest.

Call a St. Petersburg DUI Defense Lawyer Today for a Free Initial Consultation

DUI charges are serious business in Florida, and a conviction may even land you in jail. The DUI defense lawyers at Khonsari Law Group can examine the nature of your charge, as well as your health condition, and may assert a valid legal defense to your DUI charge. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg, Florida, DUI defense lawyer at Khonsari Law Group, please call us at (727) 269-5300 or contact us online.

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