Breath tests are one of the most common pieces of evidence used in DUI cases. However, it is also one of the most unreliable.
Mouth alcohol is considered a factor which can throw off a breast test. It occurs when a small amount of alcohol remains in the mouth or throat, altering the chemicals in your breath when blowing into a breathalyzer device. Breath tests rely on the amount of alcohol particles in your breath as you breathe out.
The most common sources of mouth alcohol include:
- Burping – Burps result in small amounts of alcohol being thrown back into the mouth. Due to this reason, law enforcement officers are required to perform a 15-minute “observation period” before administering the breath test in order to watch that you do not burp, hiccup, or vomit.
- Mouthwash – Mouthwash consists of alcohol. Many people use it to cover up the “smell” of alcohol on their breath. However, residue could stay in your mouth and disrupt the breath test.
- Heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD – Reflux or heartburn creates mouth alcohol since it causes the stomach contents to flow back into the throat and contaminate your breath.
- Dental work – Those with braces, dentures, or any other form of orthodontics can get food or liquid trapped in these devices.
- Medicines – Medicines such as cough syrup contain alcohol. Due to their thickness and their syrup-based consistency, they can leave residue in the mouth.
- Breath spray – Some breath sprays have the similar effect as mouth wash.
The best way to determine whether or not mouth alcohol is a valid defense in your case is to speak with an experienced DUI attorney.