Skip to main content

How many people are having problems with Smart Start In-Home Breathalyzer Devices?

Houston, TX |

My boyfriend is having major problems with this device. Miss blows are regular however he never misses a blow. He has had to return the machine 3 different times. He has already been thrown in jail for the machine reading 5 different readings in the matter of minutes, then released the next day because the charge was dismissed. He is facing 6 years and is working his butt off on doing everything right, yet these problems keep happening with this machine which could easily get him revoked at anytime. He does not drink anymore, he has followed all directions from Smart Start (what advise they say could be causing it) and still violations left and right. What should he do??? He is suppose to get it off in a month. It has been a year.

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3


It is quite common to have false positives, and mystery failures. These things are far from perfect, and some companies' maintenance and installation skill levels are better than others. the more quickly and thoroughly he reacts to these, the better off he will be. The Court may extend the period he is required to be monitored, especially if that is an alternative to a MAJ/MRP = jail time and final conviction, with all that entails.
If the monitoring term is extended then, switching providers makes a lot of sense. Contact your existing attorney without delay. The atty is undoubtedly aware of the problems if your b/f has been jailed over this. He is apt to have some worthwhile suggestions, but needs to monitor the MAJ/MRP situation with the PO/CSS or Courtroom Liaison Officer. Forewarned is forearmed.
He will need a court order that the unit be removed/returned to the vendor once the monitoring period is terminated.

This answer is in the nature of general information only and does not constitute legal advice or the formation of an attorney-client relationship.


Is he on an Atkins type diet? Is he on a very low calorie diet? I represented a woman on a ketogenic diet. She experienced false-positive breath alcohol results on her Smart Start device . The problem is that the body transforms acetone to isopropanol, an alcohol which the device can't distinguish from ethanol. Acetone is reduced in the body to isopropanol by hepatic alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) This can trigger a false positive result on a "Smart Start" which uses a process called electrochemical oxidation. Does he have hyperglycemia or uncontrolled diabetes ? This could also produce isopropanol in the blood, which could be exhaled in the breath. Just something to consider. I hope this information helps. Good luck.

My answer is based upon the limited amount of information available at the time of writing.I am a Texas DWI Lawyer. If possible, hire an attorney who is a member of the National College of DUI Defense, who is familiar with your jurisdiction.


Your boyfriend need to contact the Smart Start company and his attorney. The sooner the better. He probably needs the device replaced.

Get Avvo’s 3-part DUI email series

A roundup of the best tips and legal advice.

DUI topics

Recommended articles about DUI

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer