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Mouth alcohol and the false positive

Imagine you are at the local bar watching the game. It's getting late and you need to get home, so you guzzle the remnants of your beer and head out. Suddenly, as you are safely driving down the road, bright lights flash in your rearview mirror.

While you may have been pulled over for something else entirely, the officer detects the scent of alcohol on your breath and asks you to submit to a breathalyzer. When you were at the bar, cheering on your favorite team, you had a few beers but they were spanned throughout the course of the game-you are confident you will pass. To your surprise, you end up blowing a tad over the limit, which is 0.08 percent, and are now strapped with a DUI. How did this happen? 

A breathalyzer requires the participant to blow into it very hard in order to sample the alveolar air to determine if you have passed or failed the test. Alveolar air emits respiratory gasses from the alveolus (small pockets), deep inside the lungs.

However, having had a recent concentration of alcohol inside the mouth can register on the test-like the amount you swigged before you left for the evening. Other factors can skew test results as well, such as the presence of alcohol that was reintroduced into your airway from the stomach. Having Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is just one example. Additionally, the results may return an inaccurate reading if you were chewing gum, sprayed a breath freshener, used an inhaler or mouthwash prior to the test being administered.

Other devices inside the mouth can also cause alcohol to remain and false positives, such as oral jewelry or dental devices like bridgework or crowns. In some cases, the test detected the presence of alcohol if a person used an alcohol-based hand sanitizer within 1 minutes after use.

A DUI charge is very serious. A criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the county you were cited in will be able to assist you and answer any questions you may have about the charge, possible consequences and what your options may be.

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