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Date of last update: 10/17/2017.

Forum Name: Diabetes

Question: Keytosis

 Mtterry - Mon Dec 10, 2007 5:59 pm

My questions are in regards to type 1 diabetes. Is it possible that a type 1 diabetic when asked to do a breathalyzer to blow higher than his/her true BAC if he or she is an out of control diabetic? will the KEYTOSIS give off an acetone?
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:27 pm

User avatar Hi Mtterry,

There have been several studies of the accuracy of breathalyzers in situations such as diabetes. Most of the studies suggest that breathalyzers are not accurate in the presence of significant ketosis because the exhaled acetone (one of the ketones produced in ketosis) can interfere with the test.

If there were concern, the best thing would be to test a blood alcohol level directly. This will specifically measure ethanol and not acetone.

Best wishes.
 tango58 - Thu Apr 09, 2009 2:34 pm

Dr. you mention several studies into ketosis and breathalyzer results. My son is a Type I diabetic and was recently stopped for a non moving violation and arrested for DWI...he told them he was diabetic and needed to check his blood sugar,that he was feeling "high". They denied him access to his meter or insulin, both were in his car. He was given a breath test that showed he exceeded the legal limit. An hour later an ambulance was called to the PD and his BS was 315. His breath smelled strongly of ketosis. He had not had anything to drink for over 12 hours and had slept since then. As you might guess we are VERY interested in these studies you referred to. Where can I find them? Your information would really help a scared young man and worried father. thanks.
 Dr. N. Haider - Sun Apr 19, 2009 5:00 pm

User avatar Hi tango58,
There are really a lot of studies into the effect of ketosis on breathalyzer accuracy. If you google them, you 'll be surprised at the number!
I am not an expert on legal issues, but I think it is easy to explain to any lawyer/judge about the situation, and they'll be favoring your case.
Here are a couple of links/studies:
Brick, Diabetes, Breath Acetone and Breathalyzer Accuracy: A Case Study, 9(1) Alcohol, Drugs and Driving (1993) (a researcher found that expired ketones in the breath of an untreated diabetic can contribute to erroneously high breath-alcohol readings. Further, the acetone on the breath from ketoacidosis will result in an odor of alcohol)

A link to diabetes and legal issues: ... erfeit-dui

Dr. N. Haider

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