Larsen Law PLLC

You're heading out for a night with friends, and you quickly shower and use some mouthwash before you leave the house. Five minutes later, the police pull you over for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. The officer says your breath smells like alcohol and he wants to give you a breath test.

You shrug and take the test, knowing you haven't been drinking. But it comes back positive. The officer says he's going to arrest you on DUI charges.

Does that sound impossible? It's not. A test was carried out using a breathalyzer and a bottle of mouthwash. After the mouthwash was used, the test was given out and came back with a BAC reading of .73. The test was then repeated after five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes and 20 minutes. It kept registering for a full 10 minutes after the mouthwash was used.

Keep in mind, the man carrying out the test did not drink the mouthwash. He had not consumed any alcohol. He didn't still have it in his mouth at the time of the test. He just followed the directions on the bottle, swished it around in his mouth for 30 seconds, and spit it out. That was enough to trigger the test.

This case shows that a breath test, though helpful for law enforcement, is not always as accurate or dependable as people often assume. Breathalyzers can be fooled, and they can be triggered even when you're not actually drunk. If you think you've been given DUI charges by mistake, be sure you know all of the legal options you have.

Source: Whitening Teeth Help, "Can Using Mouthwash Make You Fail A Breathalyzer?," accessed Aug. 11, 2017

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