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Can Mouthwash Trigger a Breathalyzer?

Posted by Mark Garka | Jun 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

When officers suspect people of a DUI they typically use breathalyzers to determine if peoples' blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit. Because of this mouthwash can trigger a breathalyzer to mistakenly read your BAC higher than is true.

Looking at the Research

In a study performed in 1994, researchers found that mouthwash use can affect breathalyzer readings. As many forms of mouthwash have high percentages of alcohol content (some with more than 20%,), researchers discovered that the use of mouthwash could cause a breathalyzer to show that someone is drunk.

If mouthwash is going to trigger a breathalyzer, timing is everything. For mouthwash to trip a breathalyzer past legal limits, users must typically use the mouthwash within two minutes of the test.

However, researchers found that breath alcohol measurements decayed exponentially after two minutes of use. Therefore, while mouthwash could trigger a breathalyzer 6 or 8 minutes after use, it may not put the person's breath over the legal limit.

Minors & Mouthwash

The research found that people have nothing to worry about when using mouthwash normally, but they could unfavorably make their situation worse if they use mouthwash to hide the smell of alcohol before talking to police.

However, this test did not account for minors.

Minors must follow a zero-tolerance policy in regards to drinking and driving. Therefore, if a minor's breath triggers a breathalyzer, he or she could face severe penalties. As a result, minors should be careful about using mouthwash while driving and before talking to police, as using alcoholic mouthwashes could result in a mistaken minor DUI charge.

Need Representation for Your Case?

Although mouthwash can mess with a breathalyzer, there are many other ways a breathalyzer may give false positives. If you or a loved one need representation for a DUI case due to a false positive, attorney Mark Garka is here to help.

Call (888) 252-1961 now for a free consultation for your case!

About the Author

Mark Garka

Mark is a solo-practitioner who limits his practice to DUI Defense. During Law School, he worked in the Juvenile Division for the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney's Office and he also worked in the Corrections Division at the Attorney General's Office. After completing his degree, he clerked...


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