What Does 'Mouth Alcohol' Mean in DUI Cases?

Mouth AlcoholIn most DUI cases, the driver will be asked to provide a breath sample for analysis. The driver will often be asked to provide a breath sample on the officer’s portable preliminary alcohol sensor (“PAS”) device. The driver will also be given the option of taking a breath test on the Breathalyzer machine following a DUI arrest. In either case, the presence of “mouth alcohol” may affect the results of the breath test and can potentially be raised as a defense in court.

Mouth Alcohol v. Deep Lung Air

Both the PAS device and the Breathalyzer are designed to measure the air from a tester’s deep lung area. This air, known as “alveolar air,” can provide an accurate measure of a defendant’s blood alcohol content at the time of testing. However, the breath test can be affected by alcohol in the defendant’s mouth. The presence of mouth alcohol will distort the driver’s BAC results and will often cause improperly high test results.

When Can Mouth Alcohol Affect Test Results

Before taking a breath test, the driver will be observed for a period of time to ensure that he or she does not eat, drink, burp, regurgitate or do anything else that would cause the presence of mouth alcohol. When taking the breath test, the arrestee will be encouraged by the testing officer to blow deeply in order to ensure that deep lung air is tested. However, certain conditions can lead to higher than normal mouth alcohol levels that can throw off the results of the Breathalyzer test.

If the defendant recently had dental surgery or suffers from certain dental conditions, alcohol consumed may store in dental pits or cavities and can cause mouth alcohol to be present during testing and cause higher than actual BAC results. In addition, the driver may suffer from certain medical conditions that contribute to the presence of mouth alcohol. Drivers who suffer from GERD, a gastrointestinal reflux condition, experience reflux which forces stomach contents, including any alcohol consumed, into the mouth and windpipe. This mouth alcohol can affect breath test results. There are other various medical conditions that can distort the results of DUI breath tests because of mouth alcohol.

“Mouth Alcohol” in a DUI Defense

There are a number of DUI defenses that a defendant can raise in fighting a DUI case and it is critical that the defendant be represented by an experienced and effective DUI attorney when exploring these issues. In some cases, the defense may be able to argue that an elevated BAC was caused by the presence of mouth alcohol, which distorted any subsequent breath test. Keep in mind, “mouth alcohol” is only relevant when dealing with breath tests, as the presence of mouth alcohol would not matter when a blood sample is provided.

The defense may be able to show medical or dental records regarding a condition that would cause the presence of mouth alcohol that could have affected the breath test results. It may be necessary to have expert witnesses describe to a prosecutor or jury why the defendant’s condition would have caused mouth alcohol and what type of effect it would have had on the results of any subsequent breath test. The prosecution may agree to dismiss charges or offer a plea to a reduced DUI charge if presented with this type of evidence.

If you or a loved one have been arrested for DUI, it is crucial that you meet with a skilled and effective DUI lawyer as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Michael Kraut works closely with the area’s top experts to ensure that every avenue of defense is explored.

For more information about DUI and mouth alcohol, and to schedule your free consultation, Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7.

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