Avoiding A False DUI Positive With A Breathalyzer After Using Mouthwash

The old cliché states that mouthwash can trigger a positive result in a breathalyzer test. Unfortunately this may cause you to get brought in for a DUI arrest and may even lead to a case against you. Understanding why this happens and how to fight it is crucial to avoiding a serious legal problem.

Why Mouthwash Can Trip A Breathalyzer

The alcohol in mouthwash is the same type of alcohol that people typically drink, so a breathalyzer doesn't discriminate between alcohol that's in your mouth from mouthwash and that from beverages. As a result, a recent use of mouthwash (say, about 15-20 minutes before the test) can cause a false positive in a breathalyzer test. This is partially true because the alcohol is likely to stick around in your mouth before being evaporated.

As a result, it's a good idea to wait at least half an hour after using mouthwash to drive. However, if you don't wait and you end up getting pulled over, pay attention to the way the officer gives the breathalyzer test. This may help in your defense later.

Did The Officer Wait 15 Minutes Before Giving The Test?

In most states, it is a requirement for officers to wait at least 15 minutes after pulling you over to give you a breathalyzer test. Why is that? They are only supposed to test the air that is deep in your lungs, not the air that is in your mouth. That 15-minute waiting period is designed to let any alcohol in your mouth (such as that from mouthwash) evaporate and avoid a false positive.

While not strictly legally necessary in every state, this is an important fact to keep in mind if you are pulled over after rinsing your mouth with mouthwash. If they don't wait the 15 minutes, you may be able to use this argument against them, along with more accurate and detailed blood alcohol tests.

Ask For A Blood Test

If you believe that mouthwash has falsely tripped off a DUI warning on the breathalyzer and you're arrested, request a blood test. A blood test is a more accurate reading of your blood alcohol level and will typically hold up more in court. You can also ask for a urine test: while not strictly necessary, having two pieces of evidence against the breathalyzer can help.

The toughest part of this kind of case is that it is going to be a lot of "you versus the police officer." They may claim that you were driving erratically, which is why they pulled you over. Evidence like that is usually outweighed by negative blood alcohol levels in a blood and urine test, though.

If you're stuck in a case like this and need help, contact a professional DUI attorney, like those at Thomas & Associates, PC, right away. They can help you sort through your rights and figure out a defense that will help you avoid getting stuck paying a fine that you don't deserve to have to pay.