After a person has been pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence,
a police officer may ask for the driver to take a breath test. A person
can refuse a breath test to avoid completely implicating themselves for
a crime, but their refusal can result in immediate suspension of their
license. However, should a driver take a breath test, a skilled DUI defense
attorney can work to show that the breath test may be flawed.
Mouthwash Affects Your Breath Test
One of the things that can throw off a breath test is when there is the
presence of mouth alcohol. A breathalyzer, as a machine, assumes that
the breath exhaled into the machine comes from the lungs. The percentage
of alcohol in a person's blood is what determines impairment. While
a breathalyzer may be able to determine the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream
by reading the amount in the lungs, there is no way of determining that
the alcohol the machine is reading is from the mouth instead.
If there is any alcohol in a person's mouth or throat, the breath machine
will read this as coming from a person's lungs. If a driver has used
mouthwash or breath fresheners before the breath test, there is a chance
that the breathalyzer reading might be thrown off. When a person burps,
any alcohol that may be in their body can be pushed into their mouth and
esophagus, throwing off a reading. Therefore there are a number of factors
that can cause a breath reading to be much higher than a driver's
BAC truly is.
Attorney Virginia L. Landry has this to say about mouthwash and breath tests:
"Mouthwash, as well as other items ingested or rinsed, can falsely
elevate a breath alcohol reading. Many people will brush their teeth or
use mouthwash rinses before leaving a club and starting their drive home.
If used right before driving, a common belief is that an officer will
not be able to "smell" alcohol. Forensic studies generally agree
that after a deprivation period of 15 minutes (California Department of
Health Services Regulations, Title 17, section 1219.3), any mouth alcohol
(such as mouthwash) will have dissipated. That may be true under a controlled
study environment, but there are many "interfering substances"
which can falsely elevate a reading: mouthwash is just one of them."
To determine some of the ways that mouth alcohol may have thrown off a
blood alcohol content reading in a breath test you may have taken, consult
with an experienced DUI attorney from the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc.