Heavy Meals and Light Drinking: The GERDS Defense Raises Reasonable Doubt in Canada

In 2010, experienced DUI attorney Tom Anelli, otherwise known as the DWI Guy, gave Huffington Post readers an inside look into several little known defenses to DWI charges. One such defense, suffering from Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERDS) has recently received a great deal of attention in the press.

The Inquisitr reports that this month, a judge in Ontario, Canada upheld the GERDS DWI Defense in dismissing DWI charges against Canadian driver Phillip Coffey. After consuming several glasses of white wine at dinner, law enforcement officers subjected Mr. Coffey to a breathalyzer test in which his Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) was determined to be over Ontario’s legal limit. Mr. Coffey stated in his defense that the three glasses of sauvignon blanc that he had imbibed, in addition to the heavy wedding meal that he had eaten that evening, had aggravated his acid reflux condition. GERDS, which causes particles of food and other material to come back up the esophagus after eating, he alleged, caused the breathalyzer to obtain a higher reading because it registered the molecules of wine in his mouth. His BAC reading, he further contended, was therefore skewed, and read much higher than it should have. The judge ruled that Mr. Coffey’s GERDS defense raised enough reasonable doubt to dismiss the DWI charges against him.

In the United States, some states are finding ways around the GERDS defense when it is used in court. The Green Light News, a newsletter for Michigan Prosecutors, reported in winter of 2012, that Alabama lawmakers had instituted an interesting program to get around GERD DWI defenses, and other “mouth-breath” defenses. In Alabama, there are four safeguards built into the state’s DWI program that make the GERD defense more difficult to use. First, law enforcement officers must allow a 20 minute “deprivation period” before administering a breathalyzer, which makes obtaining “mouth breath” readings less likely. Secondly, breathalyzer results are monitored using “slope monitoring,” which essentially lets officers know whether the driver is blowing air from his or her deep lungs, or is just blowing “mouth-breath.” If the breathalyzer registers “mouth-breath,” it will shut down for 20 minutes until the deprivation period is over and the driver can blow again. Third, the breathalyzer device requires that law enforcement officers obtain two BAC samples within a fine margin of each other. If officers obtain samples that deviate too much, the device will not register the BAC, and officers must take two more samples. Finally, the last safeguard is that all of the data collected by the breathalyzer device is available for Court review.

If law enforcement officers have obtained your BAC through a breathalyzer test and charged you with violating DWI laws, it is essential that you consult with an experienced attorney. An experienced attorney can review the facts of your case and discover defenses to your DWI charges. Contact an experienced attorney at Nave DWI Defense Attorneys for a confidential consultation at 877-435-7394.

Disclaimer: The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem. Corporate offices for Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are located at 269 W. Jefferson St.; Syracuse, New York 13202; Telephone No.: (315) 473-0899. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Attorney Advertising.

2015-04-15T15:27:29+00:00