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May 30, 2006

Other

Question from Canada:

If a person with type 1 is picked up after having two beers and has a high blood sugar, such as 20.0 mmol/L [360 mg/dl], would this affect the alcohol level in a person's blood according to a breathalyzer test? We are speculating that if the breath always smells so much like alcohol at this high level, then would this affect the testing. When they educate about the testing, if you had previously used mouthwash, sometimes the levels were askew.

Answer:

If your body is producing ketones (this caused by lack of insulin, not just high blood glucose levels) your breath can have acetone in it (this is that fruity smell). Some breath analyzer tests are specific to pick up just ethanol alcohol and some will also pick up other alcohols such as acetone.

From what I could find, it seems that when acetone does have an effect on the breathalyzer result, it does not normally cause a negative test to become positive. Acetone has been an issue in a few cases where the area has a “zero tolerance” policy (any alcohol at all is illegal) or someone was already drinking and the extra acetone alcohol pushed their level over the legal limit.

Of course, I certainly need to caution you about driving with any alcohol in your system as even small amounts can impair your ability to drive as well as have an effect on your blood glucose. Two beers in a young, average weight female could certainly cause you to be over the legal limit even without any acetone.

MN