See……there is this animatronic character that we all know called Pac-Man. Pac-Man has everything to do with inaccurate BAC results.
Honestly, when was the last time you even thought about playing this great game. Well, here is your chance.
Since its release in May 22, 1980, the little pixel gobbling creature was a hit. It became an omnipresent icon of the 80’s. It became a social phenomenon that sold a millions upon millions of dollars of merchandise and also inspired, among other things, an animated television series and a top-ten hit single. Pac-Man, according to the Davie-Brown Index, has the highest brand awareness of any video game character among American consumers, recognized by 94 percent of all people.
Just in case you are in the six percent, let me take four sentences to illustrate the basics of the game, then I will relate it back to DUI.
The player controls Pac-Man through a maze, eating pac-dots. When all dots are eaten, Pac-Man is taken to the next stage. Four ghosts (Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde) roam the maze, trying to catch Pac-Man. If a ghost touches Pac-Man, a life is lost. Near the corners of the maze are four larger, flashing dots known as power pellets that provide Pac-Man with the temporary ability to eat the ghosts.
On the other hand, is something called candida albicans.
(This is a photomicrograph of "Pac-Man" or Candida Albicans)
Candida Albicans is a type of yeast. It is one of the most bountiful organisms on the planet earth. It can be practically found on any surface on the planet. This would include your skin and most surfaces. If the question is "where can Candida Albicans be found?" in a word without much exaggeration the answer would be "everywhere" or "anywhere".
Why does this matter?
Exogenous alcohol production in the blood tube. In other words, under certain conditions, ETOH can be actually produced in the tube AFTER collection. That’s right. You are accused of a DUI, they draw your blood and through no fault of your own (but through the fault of the collector), your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) can be higher than it was in your blood when it was circulating through your veins. It is so bad that it can even produce ETOH when none existed organically (naturally) in your bloodstream in your body at all.
What is worse? Even the most perfectly calibrated and flawless analytical device (either a GC-FID or GC-FID/MS/MS and even especially a device based upon colormetric analysis such as hospital blood testing) cannot tell the difference between the endogenous alcohol amount (i.e., the amount of alcohol that is there and is your fault because you actually drank it) and exogenous alcohol amounts (i.e., the amount of alcohol that is there that is not your fault because it was created in the tube after it was collected from you). WOOOOOOOO!
Got your attention now?
How does this happen, you might ask.
It is really quite simple. There are a great number of scenarios that can lead to exogenous alcohol production. But first a microbiology lesson.
Blood contains glucose.
In order to have exogenous alcohol production that will either result in a false positive or an inappropriate and unfair additive effect one must have:
- The organisms (Candida Albicans) themselves must be present in the tube (which is remarkably easy as most phlebotomists that I have cross-examined incorrectly or insufficiently cleanse the venipunture site, or the tubes themselves are out of expiration meaning that the vacuum of the tube which is designed to keep good things in and the bad stuff-Candida Albicans-out); and
- Appropriate substrate is present; and
- Appropriate temperature exists; [and optionally]
- [insufficient amount or lack of anti-fermenting agent in the tube itself or it is improperly mixed]
The basic transformation can be simplified as follows: Candida Albicans when the blood is not refrigerated takes the glucose in the blood, consumes it and excretes EOTH.
Now we go back to Pac-Man (see there was a reason why I put it in this post)….
(Pictured above-Candida Albicans "eats" glucose in the blood and "poops" out ETOH)
So think of it this way….
- Pac-Man is Candida Albicans
- The ghosts are glucose
- The flashing dots in the corner that energizes Pac-Man is the lack of refrigeration
Just like in the game itself, it is only when Pac-Man eats the flashing dots, that Pac-man can eat the ghosts. However, instead of it killing the ghosts in our version of Pac-Man, it creates ETOH. So, Candida Albicans "eats" glucose in the blood and "poops" out ETOH.
All of this can all be ruled out by a simple test called the Ion Scan, but the government doesn’t bother. Why bother to be sure?
-Justin J. McShane, Esquire, Pennsylvania DUI Attorney
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