What Causes False Positives for Breathalyzers?

young female driver being subject to test for alcohol content with use of breathalyzer

Many people have heard of the strange things people try to do to defeat breathalyzer tests. From putting a penny in your mouth to chewing gum, very few things, if any, will show that you are sober when you aren’t. There are things, however, that can cause a false positive, and people need to be aware of them.

1. Mouthwash

Mouthwash has been said to throw off the reading of a breathalyzer test. Unfortunately, swigging mouthwash can skew the results in favor of the arresting officer. Mouthwash has a high alcohol content and can cause you to blow in such a way that you appear intoxicated, or more intoxicated than you are.

2. Vaping

Thousands of people have turned to vaping as an alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. If you are hooked on an electronic cigarette, you may want to keep it tucked in your pocket if you have been out drinking. The chemicals in an e-cig, especially those that are flavored with menthol, can throw off the results of a breathalyzer, making your situation worse.

3. Calibration

Before a person is administered a breathalyzer test, the machine must be calibrated. Although much of the calibration is done internally, there is still a human component to the process. This means that it is open to error. If the machine is not calibrated correctly, it may provide results that aren’t accurate.

4. Medications

Breathalyzers measure deep-lung air, but alcohol in your mouth can increase a reading. If you take any medication that is applied to the inside of the mouth, you may blow a positive number when you haven’t been drinking at all. Other medications, like those taken for cold and flu, can also skew results.

5. Diabetes

Many people with diabetes that isn’t properly controlled have acetone in their breath. Some older breathalyzer machines that are still in operation cannot detect between naturally-occurring ethyl alcohol and that which you have consumed. If you are diabetic, make sure that you make the police aware of that fact before you blow into a machine.

Being arrested for driving under the influence is a stressful situation. If you are convicted of the charge, you can face consequences that are long lasting. Do not make your situation worse by blowing a false positive on the breathalyzer machine due to any of the above. Remember that you have the right to consult an attorney before you submit to any chemical tests.

If you happen to be arrested for driving under the influence in Philadelphia or the surrounding area, reach out to our experienced DUI defense lawyers. We will review the details of your charges and arrest, and advise you of your legal options. Your first consultation is free. Call us today and let us start putting together your defense. Your reputation, your financial status and possible even your employment may be at stake.