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Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc.
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"I Could Smell the Alcohol!" A False DUI Claim


We often say that we can smell the alcohol on a person’s breath, but when we make that claim we are actually referring to the scent of the beverage. Alcohol itself is actually odorless, so people who think that they are smelling this intoxicating substance aren’t entirely right. They smell the beverage that contains the alcohol. For example, beer has a very pungent smell. Yet if you purchase non-alcoholic beer, you’ll find that it actually has the exact same scent as a normal beer. While the yeast-like aroma of the beer may bring to mind a warning that there is alcohol involved, police are required to take blood and breath test. Scents can be misleading.

Along with being misleading, scents can bring on false charges. A person who smells like he or she has been drinking exorbitant amounts of alcohol may have only had a little bit. Maybe the alcohol spilled on his or her shirt, causing that person to reek of beer or wine. Judging a person’s level of consummation on how they smell is entirely unprofessional and can be very deceptive. In fact, research has shown that odor strength is entirely unrelated to a person’s BAC.

Some people who smell of beer register a 0.0 BAC, partially because someone may have spilled alcohol on them or given them a non-alcoholic beverage that mimics the taste and smell of something that is intoxicating. In one experiment, police were told to guess a person’s BAC based on the scent on their breath. They were almost always inaccurate. Therefore, if you were charged with a DUI based on the fact that you “smelled like alcohol” then you need to hire a DUI attorney and combat the charges. Convicting someone based on their scent at the time of arrest is entirely unprofessional and illegal.

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