Have you been arrested for DWI because you failed the breath test? The good news is that there are potential defenses for a DWI, regardless of your breath test results. Your blood alcohol content or BAC reading may have been over the legal limit, but that does not necessarily mean that the numbers were accurate.
It should be known that breath tests do not actually measure the amount of alcohol present in a person’s blood. What it does is make an approximation of your BAC by measuring the amount of alcohol in your lungs. The amount gathered is then converted into a blood-to-alcohol ratio.
When you consume alcohol, the alcohol enters the body through the mouth and travels through your gastrointestinal tract. While majority of the alcohol is absorbed into the body in the small intestines, the mouth also absorbs some alcohol. Small amounts of alcohol can remain in the mouth after you swallow, and this remaining alcohol can impact a breath test.
Mouth Alcohol Effects on Breathalyzer Test Results
Breathalyzer devices are designed to calculate a person’s BAC using a breath sample. The presence of residual alcohol in the mouth, however, can in some cases upset the test results. This means that it is possible to receive a test result with falsely high readings, thus making it possible to mistakenly be charged with drunk driving.
Unknown to many is the fact that there are many other causes of mouth alcohol apart from alcoholic beverages. The use of everyday products such as breath mints, mouthwash, cough syrup, or cold medicine prior to taking a breath test might increase your breath test results. Certain medical conditions such as acid reflux disease and GERD can cause inaccurately high BAC levels on a Breathalyzer.
Dental work such as false teeth, braces, and dentures can affect your test results due to food being trapped in your gums and teeth. Bodily functions such as burps, vomit, or hiccups can even affect your test results, as they can bring the alcohol vapors from the stomach back into the mouth. Even environmental factors such as paint and other chemicals have been known to affect the accuracy of Breathalyzer tests.
In some states such as California, the law requires police officers to continuously watch a DWI suspect for a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes prior to administering a breath test to ensure that the suspect does not consume anything, hiccup, belch, burp, or regurgitate – as any of these actions may result in alcohol traveling from the stomach to the mouth and triggering a false BAC reading.
Mouth Alcohol as a DWI Defense
The presence of mouth alcohol may be a defense to a drunk driving charge. If you have been charged with DWI and you feel that the results of your breath test were inaccurate, consult with the best DWI attorney you can find as soon as possible.
A DWI attorney may be able to question the validity of your breath test results. While a mouth alcohol defense may not lead to your case being thrown out of court, it may create reasonable doubt in the jurors’ minds and potentially lead to an acquittal.
Source: Mouth Alcohol Defenses, published on http://www.mouthalcohol.com/mouthalcoholdefenses.html.