While everyone knows about the great weight-loss benefits of the Atkins Diet, few people know about the diet’s other big advantage… it’s a possible California DUI defense.
1. How does an Atkins Diet defense work?
The Atkins Diet serves as a valid DUI defense since a low-carbohydrate / high-protein Atkins-style diet can fool DUI breath testing instruments. This is because most California DUI breath testing machines aren’t equipped with the technology to distinguish between isopropyl alcohol (the type of alcohol that is auto-generated by a body deprived of carbohydrates) and ethyl alcohol (the type of alcohol that we drink).
And while a cop isn’t likely to believe that your blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit simply because you plead this defense, a judge and/or jury just may…especially when supported by validated scientific evidence.
In short, when you eliminate or drastically reduce your carbohydrate intake, your body turns to its stored fat for energy. When this function takes place, ketones are produced. Certain ketones convert to isopropyl alcohol which is excreted from your body in your urine and breath.
So when your body is in ketosis (the process of producing isopropyl alcohol), and you submit to a California DUI breath test, you are actually providing an isopropyl alcohol sample instead of an ethyl alcohol sample. And because most DUI breath testing instruments aren’t sophisticated enough to recognize the difference, a low-carbohydrate / high-protein Atkins-style diet can fool a DUI breath testing instrument.
This is just one reason why it is critical to discuss all health issues, dietary restrictions, and/or medical conditions with a California DUI defense attorney during your initial consultation. (See our related article, “Can a California DUI conviction be removed from my record?“).
2. What are the penalties for a California DUI?
The consequences of a first-time DUI conviction under California law can include:
- 3 to 5 years of informal misdemeanor probation (typically 3 years),
- DUI school ranging from 3 to 9 months (typically 3 months),
- fines and penalty assessments totaling between $1,500 and $2,000 (depending on the county),
- a 6-month driver’s license suspension (though people may be able to get a restricted license or drive immediately with an ignition interlock device (IID) restricted license),
- installation of an IID for six months (unless the defendant chooses not to drive),
- up to 6 months in county jail (depending on the county),
- in some counties, work release,
- attending a victim impact panel, and
- indirect consequences (such as increased car insurance premiums and harsher penalties if the defendant gets convicted of a subsequent DUI).