Connection Between Low Carbohydrate Diets and DUI Arrest


low carbohydrate and dui

Being pulled over by the police may end badly for you even if you didn’t do anything wrong. I’m not just talking about arguing with the police and taking up an aggressive stance – that will land you in jail pretty quickly and perhaps get you teased – during a seemingly innocent routine stop you may be subjected to a breathalyzer test if the officer suspects that you might have been drinking and there are a number of instances where the test results in false positives.  The problem is that people aren’t aware of this fact and fail to properly form their defense in court.

One of the most common reasons for a false positive result is a ketogenic diet. This type of diet is centered on significantly reducing carbohydrate intake in order to induce rapid fat loss, but by doing this you induce ketosis in your body. This is a condition, where due to the very low amount of carbs being ingested the glycogen reserves stored in the liver get depleted, which in turn causes ketone bodies to form in the body.  Ketones are byproducts of fatty acid breakdown; two types are used as energy sources when glycogen reserves are sparse, but the third type, known as acetone, isn’t utilized very efficiently and produces a strong smell in the breath.  As the ketone bodies start being produced at a faster rate than they can be utilized by the body they start building up in the blood.

The increased blood ketone body levels and the characteristic acetone smell in the breath are common with diabetics, pre-diabetic conditions and certain tumors that can cause hypoglycemia as well as individuals on low carb diets like Atkins, some versions of the Paleolithic Diet, etc. If you fall into any of these categories, a breathalyzer test will register ketones expelled through the lungs as alcohol and you will likely be charged with a DUI. Another problem is that the police can have a very good reason to suspect you might be intoxicated and decide to administer the test.

Some of the other side effects of a low carb diet can include headaches, fatigue, dizziness, tremors, muscle cramps, dehydration and irritability. When a policeman pulls over a person who exhibits some of these symptoms – e.g. someone who looks drowsy, seems agitated and whose hands visibly shake while he is handy over his documents – his first thought, based on previous experience, will be that the person is somewhat intoxicated and that a breathalyzer test will need to be administered. Even just noticing the acetone smell in the breath while talking to the individual can be enough to cause the policeman to suspect the person behind the wheel is intoxicated.

It is important to understand the processes involved in low carb diets and how they can affect the body if you want to be able to intelligently explain to the police why the breathalyzer may result in a false positive and, more likely, to prepare an effective defense against a DUI case in court since policemen are less inclined to accept excuses that go against their instinct.


Damian Wolf has been an author and online business strategist since 2009. He usually writes about business, lifestyle and self improvement.

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Howard Iken is a Florida attorney that practices in family law, bankruptcy, and criminal law. He can be reached at