Are False Positives Possible with DUI Tests?

Are False Positives Possible with DUI Tests?

False Positives with a Breathalyzer

Failing a Breathalyzer or other type of test that measures blood alcohol concentration can produce a great deal of anxiety. Since several situations could produce a false positive result, you’re within your legal rights to seek an attorney who will argue the results of your DUI testing. Below are some of the most common situations that can cause someone to test as legally impaired when they have had little or nothing to drink containing alcohol.

Using Mouthwash or a Similar Type of Product to Freshen Your Breath

If you plan to consume any amount of alcohol before you go out for the evening, it’s not a good idea to use mouthwash as a breath freshener ahead of time. That is because most mouthwash products have a high alcohol concentration. The taste and presence of the mouthwash remain in your mouth for several hours. When you blow into a Breathalyzer later, the alcohol concentration from the mouthwash could cause a positive reading. Although manufacturers now sell alcohol-free mouth rinses, you need to exercise caution when using a breath freshening product by reading its entire list of ingredients.

Even chewing a breath mint, cough drop, or stick of gum can cause the results of your Breathalyzer test to come up positive. Although these products don’t actively contain alcohol, some use a substitute for sugar known to produce false responses on blood alcohol monitoring tests. Again, be sure to read labels and avoid any product with artificial sweetener when you plan to go out for the evening and enjoy a few drinks.

The Effects of Certain Types of Medication

A small percentage of both prescription and non-prescription medications can trigger a false positive on a Breathalyzer test even though they don’t actively contain alcohol. For example, a popular over-the-counter remedy for a canker sore or toothache can produce a false positive result. It’s especially important to exercise caution with any medication that you need to spray or apply to the inside of your mouth. The Breathalyzer machine can detect the medication and misinterpret it to mean that your blood alcohol level is above the Virginia legal limit of .08 percent.

Non-prescription medications used for the treatment of cold or flu symptoms could contain menthol, an ingredient with small amounts of alcohol. If you choose to take one of these products, it’s a good idea to have someone else do the driving. Just having a cold or a touch of the flu can make you appear impaired to a police officer. Even if you pass the blood alcohol test on the side of the road, you can save yourself the embarrassment and frustration of having to take it in the first place.

If you have diabetes, be aware that your body may produce an acetone level that’s higher than normal. This is a natural type of ethyl alcohol. It can be especially problematic when the police officer who pulls you over uses an older version of a Breathalyzer test. The reason for this is that these machines can’t differentiate between ethyl alcohol made by the body and alcoholic beverages that people consume.

Improper Calibration

The officer who pulls you over must calibrate the machine correctly or run the risk of receiving a false positive result. Because the Breathalyzer machine is portable and used often, it requires frequent maintenance and repair to ensure proper functioning. Human error can also play a part when the police officer uses the machine improperly, whether that’s due to wrong calibration or another type of error.

Secure Your Defense with Pack Law Group as Soon as Possible

When you know that you’re innocent of the DUI charges leveled against you, it’s essential to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. The sooner you do, the sooner we can challenge the test on the grounds of false positive and you can put this chapter of your life behind you. We invite you to contact Pack Law Group at 540-586-7225 to request a free and confidential review of your DUI case. Matthew L. Pack and Christopher M. Dolen will use their many years of combined experience as DUI defense attorneys to aggressively fight the charges against you.

What’s the Difference Between a Field Sobriety Test and a Test at a Police Station?

What’s the Difference Between a Field Sobriety Test and a Test at a Police Station?

Arrest in Virginia

Getting pulled over for suspicion of DUI in Virginia can be a terrifying experience. Maybe you’ve received speeding or parking tickets in the past, but these don’t come close in comparison to being arrested for drunk driving. The experience may be so unsettling that you end up agreeing to some tests that you aren’t required by law to take.

Virginia DUI law is quite complicated, and there are some tests that are voluntary and others that are not. The police can also place you under arrest for DUI whether or not you agree to any of these tests. There is a specific distinction between a Virginia field sobriety test and one taken at a police station.

Field Sobriety Tests in Virginia

Unfortunately, many drivers are not aware of their rights and either say too much or agree to take part in activities that could undermine their rights. In Virginia, you are under no legal obligation to participate in any field sobriety tests, and your refusal of these tests cannot be held against you in court.

A majority of roadside tests might be standardized, but most are not in your favor. Even completely sober people can have difficulty completing some of these tests, and there are medical conditions that can skew the outcome. Some of the most common field sobriety tests include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, One Leg Stand test, and the 9 Step Walk and Turn test.

Do You Have to Take a Roadside Breathalyzer Test?

Similar to those field sobriety tests, you are under no obligation to take a roadside breathalyzer test in Virginia. A police officer may present one of these to you and ask you to blow into the device, but this is a request, not a demand.

It’s important to understand that declining these tests doesn’t necessarily mean that the police are going to let you go. In fact, most will decide that you have something to hide and place you under arrest for DUI anyway. Once you are transported to the police station, this is where the rules change.

DUI Tests Taken at a Police Station

Once you’ve been arrested for DUI in the Commonwealth of Virginia and taken to the police station, you will be subject to the implied consent law. By accepting the privilege to drive in Virginia, you automatically give consent to law enforcement for a breath or blood test upon arrest for DUI. Most opt for a breathalyzer test.

This post-arrest test is taken on an Evidential Test Device (ETD). This test is administered within three hours of a DUI arrest. Before taking the test, a police officer should read you your rights as well as the notice regarding Virginia’s implied consent law.

A blood test is also a possibility but is less common. These are more often used in cases where the police suspect that you were driving under the influence of drugs. The police also have implied consent for this test, but no one can force you to take it. If you refuse either this test or the post-arrest breathalyzer, there will be consequences.

The Penalty for Refusing a Post-Arrest DUI Test

If you refuse to submit to a blood or breath test after being arrested for DUI in Virginia, you will be charged with an additional crime. Your license will be automatically suspended for one year, and your refusal to take the test will be held against you in your DUI case. For these reasons alone, it’s not advisable to refuse these tests.

Speak with a Qualified Virginia DUI Attorney

If you have been arrested for DUI in Virginia, your situation is serious. Even a first time offender faces penalties that can include jail time if convicted. Having a conviction on your record can have lasting consequences, and this is something that you should try to avoid with the help of an experienced and aggressive Virginia DUI attorney.

At Pack Law Group, our DUI defense attorneys understand what is at stake will and do everything possible to protect your rights and freedom. We will provide you with a strong defense and work on your behalf for a favorable case outcome.

Contact our Bedford office now at 540-586-7225 or reach us online to schedule an initial consultation.