Acid Reflux DUI Defense

By Andrew Mishlove on October 02, 2019


Man suffering from heartburn during acid refluxHaving a skilled OWI/DUI lawyer for drunk and intoxicated driving cases can mean the difference between license suspension and getting the charges against you dropped. The attorneys at Mishlove & Stuckert, LLC have helped countless people throughout Wisconsin who have been charged with driving under the influence and operating while intoxicated.

Medical issues can affect BAC tests in unexpected ways. With that in mind, we would like to explore how acid reflux can lead to problems with breathalyzer testing. There’s a chance that a sober person with acid reflux could be arrested for drunk driving through no fault of their own.

About Acid Reflux (GERD)

Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, acid reflux is a condition in which the contents of your stomach rises up into the esophagus, leading to discomfort and a host of other symptoms.

It’s estimated that between 10 and 20 percent of the Western world experiences some form of acid reflux. That means it’s not out of the ordinary for your average driver in Wisconsin to suffer from GERD.

Signs and Symptoms of Acid Reflux (GERD)

The most common signs and symptoms of acid reflux include:

  • Burning sensation in the chest (heartburn)
  • Chest pain
  • Problems swallowing
  • Vomiting/regurgitation
  • Feeling of a lump or matter in the throat

People who suffer from chronic acid reflux may also experience:

  • Chronic coughing
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Asthma
  • Laryngitis

Risk factors for acid reflux include obesity, pregnancy, smoking, overeating, and certain medical conditions. In addition, acid reflux could be triggered by coffee or alcohol consumption.

The Effect of Acid Reflux on Breathalyzer Testing

If you have acid reflux, our Wisconsin drunk driving lawyers want to stress that this could potentially affect a breathalyzer test.

When people with GERD have alcohol, undigested alcohol could remain in the stomach and get pushed into the esophagus and mouth. This vaporous expulsion of alcohol from the stomach into the throat is known as “mouth alcohol,” and it can lead to higher BAC readings with a breathalyzer.

Risk of False Positives

With an increased amount of alcohol in the mouth due to GERD, there is a risk that there may be a false positive with a breathalyzer. This is particularly true if a person with acid reflux finished a drink relatively recently before getting behind the wheel. They could be sober or well within the legal limit, yet their BAC from a breathalyzer will be much higher.

This highlights one of the biggest drawbacks of breath tests for sobriety assessment:

  • Breathalyzers don’t measure alcohol in the blood
  • There are multiple factors that can impact the amount of alcohol on a person’s breath independent of excessive alcohol consumption

Why You Need Skilled Defense Lawyers

This information about acid reflux is news to so many people. The average person doesn’t even realize the impact a medical condition can have on drunk driving tests. By working with a skilled attorney, we can discuss the circumstances of your case and potential scenarios that compromised the accuracy of a sobriety test.

Our legal team can help develop a sound legal strategy that can get charges dropped and/or penalties reduced.

Contact a Skilled Drunk Driving Lawyer

If you need the help of skilled drunk driving lawyers, be sure to contact our team of drunk and intoxicated driving attorneys. You can reach our office in Milwaukee at (414) 206-6918 and in Waukesha at (262) 207-4527.

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