False Readings with the BAC DataMaster
March 4th, 2014

Painting Without Mask - False BACThe BAC DataMaster is a breathalyzer machine used to determine Blood Alcohol Content. These machines are used by law enforcement during traffic stops to determine if you are over the legal limit.

The DataMaster uses an infrared light to analyze the amount of alcohol in someone’s breath. Alcohol absorbs infrared light, so the machine can determine how much alcohol a person has in their system by analyzing how much of the light is missing. In order to do this, the light goes all the way through the machine and down to a detector. Then the DataMaster provides a reading.

While this might seem like a good system for determining if someone has had too much alcohol, it can actually generate false positive readings. Certain factors increase the chances of having a false positive reading.

• Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causes gas from the stomach to fill the mouth. When someone with GERD breathes into a DataMaster, the machine analyzes stomach gas as if it was alcohol. This can cause the reading to be higher than it should be.

• People who have been exposed to paint removers, gasoline, and some cleaning fluids are also more likely to have false positive results when they breathe into a BAC DataMaster. The chemicals in those items can cause the DataMaster to think the person has consumed a large amount of alcohol, even if they have not had a single drink. Wearing a mask when working with these items reduces the chance of a false positive reading.

• Having a drink right before being tested can cause the reading to be much higher than it should be. Because of that, people should avoid having a drink on their way out the door, even if it’s the only drink you’ve had all night and your blood alcohol level is very low.

Because the BAC DataMaster is not always accurate, sometimes innocent people get charged with drunk driving. Innocent people can fight the charges by hiring a DUI lawyer and going to court to contest their drunk driving charges.

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