Los Angeles DUI and Mouth Alcohol
When a driver is pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, he or she is usually asked to provide a breath sample on the officer’s portable preliminary alcohol sensor (“PAS”) device to determine whether or not the driver has a BAC of 0.08 percent or above. If arrested for DUI, the driver will be given the option of taking a breath test on the Breathalyzer device. Drivers are often encouraged to take the breath test by police officers because it is easier for them to conduct the breath test rather than the blood test and BAC results are immediately known. In certain cases, the results of the breath test can be affected by the presence of alcohol in the test taker’s mouth which can lead to inaccurate results.
While breath testing devices are designed to measure alveolar, or deep-lung, air in an individual’s breath sample, the presence of mouth alcohol can be detected by a breath testing device and will provide BAC results that are inaccurately high. The presence of mouth alcohol can be explained by a number of different factors. In many cases, a person will use mouthwash that can affect BAC results. Most mouthwash contains alcohol and a driver who uses this product can test positive on a breath test despite not having consumed any alcohol. This is often a problem for drivers who are under the age of 21 and people who are on probation for a DUI offense, as these drivers cannot drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. For these drivers, a BAC of 0.01 percent or higher will be considered a violation of the law. This means that any recent mouthwash use can be picked up by a breath testing device and may produce a positive BAC reading. For drivers with dentures or certain dental conditions, alcohol may become trapped in dental crevices or pits and which may lead to inaccurately high BAC results.
Other factors can contribute to falsely elevated breath test results. Many people do not realize that chewing tobacco contains raw ethyl alcohol which can also affect the results of a breath test. In addition, conditions such as GERD or other reflux diseases cause the contents of a person’s stomach to flow up their esophagus into the throat and mouth. Any alcohol in a person’s stomach could be forced into the mouth which would lead to inaccurately high BAC results on a breath testing device.
Before testing a driver’s BAC on a Breathalyzer device, Title 17 requires that the driver be observed for 15 minutes to ensure that he or she does not eat, drink, smoke, burp or regurgitate, all of which may affect the accuracy of the breath test. However, even with this waiting period the breath test device may still pick up the presence of mouth alcohol which can produce an inaccurately high BAC result. A skilled Los Angeles DUI Attorney can challenge the results of the Breathalyzer or PAS test and show why the defendant’s BAC results were tainted by the presence of mouth alcohol. It may be necessary to provide medical records showing a condition such as GERD or acid reflux or dental records showing how alcohol or alcohol-soaked food may have become caught in the defendant’s teeth.
If you have been arrested for a DUI offense involving a breath test, it is critical that you speak with a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer right away. Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who understands how to effectively identify and argue pertinent issues in DUI cases that may benefit his clients.
For more information about Los Angeles DUI and mouth alcohol, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.