Does that sound a bit far fetched? I thought so too, when I read a lead-in for a blog post by Jeremy Taylor. According to lawyer Tom Anelli (the blog post says Tony, Anelli's website says Tom), who refers to himself as The DWI Guy, he has successfully used having GERD as a DWI defense.
Anelli has stated, according to the Asylum blog post, "Toxicologists and pharmacologist will testify that GERD is intensified by stress. Obviously being given a breathalyzer is a stressful situation, making it more likely for mouth-alcohol contamination to occur." He goes on to say, "It's a great defense. I've used it in cases when someone has blown a 3.6."
Mr Anelli isn't alone in either using GERD as a defense in a DWI case, or explaining why it can be a cause for false breathalyzer readings. Doing a quick search on the Internet gave me articles and blog posts from lawyers in other states who have also taken the same stance. However, I wasn't able to find any studies or medical sources that supported these claims. In fact, the opposite may be true. There is an abstract of a study on the reliability of breath-alcohol analysis of individuals with GERD, where the researchers concluded, "We conclude that the risk of alcohol erupting from the stomach into the mouth owing to gastric reflux and falsely increasing the result of an evidential breath-alcohol test is highly improbable."
While it appears to be true that some lawyers are able to use GERD as a successful defense against DWI, breathalyzer tests aren't the only means police officers use to test an individual's sobriety. A person may blame a 3.6 breathalyzer reading on his or her GERD, but if he or she can't walk a straight line, GERD hasn't been shown to affect a person's legs.
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