When a person is pulled over for DUI by the police, they are usually required to take a breathalyzer test to determine whether their blood alcohol content is above the legal limit of 0.08% in California.
Many times, breathalyzer reading may be inaccurate because the machine may malfunction or the police officer may cause an operator error or a reading has been affected by mouth alcohol. If a person has used a substance such as mouthwash before a breathalyzer test, the machine may give a reading that shows a high level of alcohol content in the person’s breath. This means that the machine will show that the person is legally intoxicated even though they may be completely sober.
The 15 Minute Waiting Peroid
The breathalyzer machine is supposed to only test alveolar (deep lung) air from the lungs. But if the machine measures something other than alveolar air (like mouth alcohol), then the test is invalid. In order to ensure that the breathalyzer machine does not measure mouth alcohol, the police officer who tests someone is required by California law to observe a fifteen minute waiting period before they administer the test where they watch the person and make sure that they do not ingest anything, smoke, drink anything or regurgitate alcohol into their throat or mouth.
Mouth Alcohol FAQ’s
1) Can Breath Fresheners Cause Mouth Alcohol?
Yes. Breath fresheners and mouthwash can both cause mouth alcohol and can cause a breathalyzer machine to give a high reading because they have alcohol in them.
2) Can Chewing Tobacco Cause Mouth Alcohol?
Yes. Chewing tobacco sometimes contains raw ethyl alcohol. This is the same type of alcohol found in wine, beer and hard liquor. Chewing tobacco can cause a falsely elevated result from a breathalyzer machine
3) Can GERD or Acid Reflux Cause Mouth Alcohol
Yes, Gerd, heartburn or acid reflux can cause mouth alcohol which would effect the result of a DUI Breath gets
4) I Have Heard That Something Called a Slope Detector Can Be Used on a Breathalyzer Machine To Detect Mouth Alcohol, Is This True?
A slope detector is a device on a breathalyzer machine that can be programmed take only deep lung air. The problem is that sometimes slope detectors may fail and may not give a warning when mouth alcohol is present. When this happens, the breathalyzer may give an inflated BAC because of the presence of mouth alcohol.
5) Can Dentures Cause Mouth Alcohol?
Yes. Many types of denture adhesives can trap alcohol in someone’s mouth and this can cause a falsely high BAC reading on a breathalyzer machine. Also, dental bridges and dental caps can trap alcohol in crevices and can cause mouth alcohol.
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Hiring An Attorney
The state of California has implemented tough drunk driving laws, and sometimes a DUI suspect will face criminal charges based on a high BAC reading on a breathalyzer machine. Many times, a high BAC reading can be attributed to the presence of mouth alcohol in the breath sample. This means that the person’s BAC may not have actually been over the legal limit when they blew into the breathalyzer machine.
At the Aizman Law Firm, our experienced DUI attorneys can help you with a defense to a DUI charge if mouth alcohol may have caused you to get a high BAC reading from a breathalyzer machine. If you need to speak to an attorney about your case or about the results of a breathalyzer test, please call our office at: (818) 351-9555.