When officers suspect a person may be driving under the influence of alcohol, they often ask for a breath sample. While you do not have to submit such a sample, you may think you have nothing to hide. You should realize, though, breath tests are not always accurate.
From the medication you take to the foods you eat, many factors may cause a breath test to give a false-positive result. Nevertheless, if you regularly experience indigestion or acid reflux, a breath test may erroneously indicate your blood alcohol concentration is over the legal limit. The same is true if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease.
The digestive process
Normally, when an individual consumes foods or liquids, a muscle at the bottom of the esophagus opens and closes. This muscle acts as a valve, keeping the contents of the stomach out of the throat.
Sometimes, stomach acid escapes back through the closure and into the esophagus or even the mouth. While unpleasant, heart burn or acid reflux is not typically a serious health threat.
Breath test accuracy
While everyone has different thresholds when consuming alcohol, most can have a drink or two without having their BACs climb too high to drive legally. Ordinarily, if you have a small amount of alcohol in your stomach, you should not have to worry about it showing up in a breath test.
On the other hand, if the muscular valve between your esophagus and your stomach does not close properly, alcohol may work its way back into your throat. Then, a breath test may reveal your BAC is over the legal limit, even though you are perfectly sober.