Are False Positives Possible with DUI Tests?
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.
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.