breathalyzer test

What Can Lead to a False Result in a Breathalyzer Test?

Being suspected of a DUI or DWI can do serious damage to your reputation, your career, and your record. While there are multiple tests that are used to gauge whether or not someone is intoxicated, they are not foolproof. What are some of the things that can lead to a false positive result on a breathalyzer or breath test?

What Is a False Positive?

Before reviewing the reasons, it’s important to understand what a false positive breathalyzer test is. There are two different breath tests that are commonly used by the police, portable breath tests (PBTs) and more complex breath tests that can be used at the police station. A PBT is typically done on the scene and the second breathalyzer will be given at the police station depending on the results of the first. Both tests have known quirks that can lead to a false positive, or an indication that you are intoxicated when you are not.

The Presence of Residual Alcohol

The breathalyzer test is designed to determine how much alcohol is in the air that you exhale from your lungs for the most accurate result. However, it also goes through your mouth. If you have an elevated level of alcohol in your mouth despite not consuming alcohol, you could get a false positive result. Some medications and foods that can lead to an error include:

  • Sugar-free gum
  • Energy drinks
  • Cough medications like Nyquil
  • Kombucha or fermented teas

Another thing that can increase the odds of a false positive on your breathalyzer test is a large amount of dental work. Bridges and crowns in your mouth can trap alcohol if you don’t brush your teeth, which means that you could have residual mouth alcohol hours later.

Poor Calibration

Breath tests need to be properly calibrated in order to make sure that they are accurately measuring alcohol. The police officer and station should be performing routine maintenance on the tool in order to ensure it stays in good condition. However, some officers fail to perform maintenance and are using breathalyzers that are damaged.

Untrained Officer

Finally, anyone administering a breathalyzer test must understand how to do so properly. If the officer administering your test was not familiar with how to use the device properly, you could receive a false positive due to the unfamiliarity of the officer.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help With Your DUI or DWI

If you feel that you have been falsely charged with driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence, you need the right legal assistance. Our experienced legal team is looking forward to working with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.