You read that correctly. A ketogenic diet, commonly referred to as a “keto diet,” has been trending as of late, and not just because of its low-carb, high-fat diet. A keto diet can actually cause a false positive on a breathalyzer test. That means that a keto diet can lead to a DUI or a DWAI charge in Colorado.

What is a Keto Diet?

The keto diet has been around for decades, but it has recently become a mainstream dieting trend in America. Its popularity has grown because of its ability to help people lose weight while eating high-fat foods. Many studies also show that people can improve their overall health.

According to dietitians, the keto diet is similar to the Atkins and other low-carb diets. Blood sugar and insulin levels are lowered and replaced with fat and ketones. The reduction in carbs puts a person’s body into a metabolic state called “ketosis.”

Once your body is in ketosis, the body becomes efficient at burning fat for energy. That’s because instead of holding on to fat, the body will burn it. When the body is in ketosis, it also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which supplies the brain’s energy.

How Can Keto Trigger a False Positive on a Breathalyzer Test?

For those on a keto diet, the liver breaks down fat and produces acetone. The chemical composition of this acetone released through a person’s breath is strikingly similar to isopropyl alcohol. Isopropyl alcohol is not safe to consume and is different than ethyl alcohol, which is found in alcoholic beverages.

There may be instances when a breathalyzer cannot tell the difference between isopropyl and ethyl alcohol. That inability would trigger a false positive on a breathalyzer test, and in some cases, lead to a DWI charge.

Colorado’s Drunk Driving Laws

Colorado has two different charges for those who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The first, driving while ability impaired (DWAI), requires a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of at least 0.05 percent but less than 0.08 percent. A conviction under DWAI is usually a misdemeanor offense. You will receive points on your license, and penalties can include jail time, fines, and mandatory community service.

A conviction of driving under the influence (DUI) requires drivers to have a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. Depending on the number of convictions, a DUI charge can either be a misdemeanor or a felony.

Suppose a police officer pulls you over and suspects that you were driving under the influence. Simply saying you are on a keto diet may not get you out of a breathalyzer test. That’s because Colorado has an “express consent” law. Any driver suspected of DUI or DWAI must submit to a breathalyzer or blood test. A driver’s refusal can be used against them.

Usually, a law enforcement officer or medical professional administers a breathalyzer or blood test to determine a driver’s blood alcohol concentration. However, if you believe that a breathalyzer test was wrongfully imposed, please contact an experienced attorney. Your case will need to be carefully assessed. The Moorhead Law Group has experience in these cases, and we can advise you about your legal rights. We invite you to schedule a consultation, at no cost to you, by calling our Boulder, Colorado, office at 303-586-6912.