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Diabetes, Low Carb (Ketogenic) Diet Or “Ketosis” As An Ohio DUI Defense

Northern Kentucky & Ohio DUI Defense Team

Ohio law defines what most states call “DUI” as “operating a vehicle under the influence” or “OVI.”

Whatever the circumstances, defending against a DUI/OVI in Ohio can drastically change your life.  You need an attorney that is ready to fight.  Experienced Cincinnati DUI attorneys understand the intricacies of the Ohio legal system.

Being charged with drunk driving can change your life completely.  DUI charges can lead to you losing your driving privileges, facing stiff fines and higher insurance premiums, and can even result in jail time.  Ohio DUI/OVI lawyers understand the legal process— always remember that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.  Choosing the right Cincinnati DUI lawyer can help you.

Understanding Ketosis and Ketoacidosis

Cincinnati DUI lawyers know that low carb dieters such as diabetics and people following the ketogenic diet may be susceptible to certain body chemistry factors that may throw off BAC tests.


People who refrain from consuming carbs sometimes obtain a physical state called “ketosis.”  In essence, ketosis allows one’s body to switch its principal fuel supply from glucose to ketones (which are found in the bloodstream) — thus allowing the burning of fat to be the body’s principal energy source.  Consumption of carbs, while someone is in a state of ketosis, can cause the body to produce isopropyl alcohol.  Most Ohio BAC testing machines cannot distinguish between isopropyl alcohol from ethanol, which is the most common substance that causes impairment.

What Triggers Ketosis?

Simply refraining from eating carbs can result in ketosis. Many people call low carb diets aimed at obtaining a state of ketosis the “ketogenic diet.”  In 2018, the ketogenic diet is arguably more popular than ever before. This ketogenic diet has long been recommended for patients with certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy.  Recently, it has gained a following because it allows dieters to eat a high-fat diet and still lose weight.  The ketogenic diet will cause you to have less glucose in your blood, which will, in turn, cause your body to burn fat for energy instead of relying on sugars.  For most people, consuming less than 30–50 grams of carbohydrates per day over a period several days can result in a state of ketosis.  If you intentionally refrain from eating carbs, are required to limit carb intake for health reasons (i.e., for diabetes), or if you didn’t happen to eat many carbs the day of your arrest, you may have a strong argument that the breath test returned a false positive.


Diabetics who have not had a sufficient amount of insulin can produce a sometimes harmful amount of ketones in their bloodstream.  Diabetics who enter a state of ketoacidosis can sometimes experience life-threatening changes in their normal organ functioning.

What Triggers Ketoacidosis?

Poor diabetes management is a leading trigger for diabetic ketoacidosis.  Diabetics who miss one or more insulin dose, or who use the wrong amount of insulin, can fall into a state of ketoacidosis.

Ketoacidosis Can Also Make You Appear Intoxicated

Bodily symptoms of ketoacidosis can include hunger, tremors, nausea, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, sweating, slurred speech, delayed reflexes, light-headedness, and confusion.  Thus, if you were in a state of ketoacidosis at the time of your arrest (in addition to being susceptible to false positive breath test results), you may have given off the physical appearance of someone who was under the influence of alcohol.

How Can Ketosis and Ketoacidosis Affect DUI Breath Tests?

Persons who are in a state of ketosis or ketoacidosis can register positive for alcohol (i.e., a false positive) on some older breath test device models.  Unfortunately, this may result in an arrest for driving under the influence.

This is how it works:  in essence, when ketones are in your bloodstream, they will also be present in your breath.  Because ketones are indistinguishable from ethanol particles (for some older breath tests), being in a state of ketosis can potentially result in positive breath test results.

Proving That Ketosis Or Ketoacidosis Affected Your Breath Test:

Cincinnati DUI lawyers know that there are several factors that can lead to a successful low carb defense argument.  Generally, the way to prove that ketones affected your breath test is by “circumstantial evidence.”  Such evidence can include proof of diabetes diagnosis from your doctor; blood work from your doctor showing that you have, in the past, been in a state of ketosis; restaurant receipts showing that you ate low carb foods on the day of your arrest; a food journal app that details your daily diet; and eyewitness accounts from your friends or family members that you intentionally follow a low-carb diet.