DWI, Driving While Intoxicated, is a serious charge. Not only is it potentially lethal to yourself and others, even if you don’t cause any harm you’re in for a world of headaches with fines, jail time, and restrictions. Whether you’ve seen it on TV or had the misfortune to experience it in real life, you know how it goes; “Blow into this tube until I tell you to stop…” Yes, the dreaded Breathalyzer.
The Breathalyzer (actually a name-brand but now a generic term for the machines) reads the amount of alcohol in your breath and determines your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) to determine whether or not you’re “under the influence”. These machines, however, can’t always determine between alcohol in your bloodstream and alcohol on your breath.
What’s the difference? Alcohol gets into your bloodstream primarily from the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol gets onto your breath from a number of different sources:
- Passionate kissing with someone who has been drinking
- Many mouthwashes (Listerine contains 27% alcohol, for example)
- Burping or belching, which can bring any alcohols still in your stomach from quite some time prior to get into your breath
- Acid Reflux, which allows gases to freely get from your stomach to your breath
- Periodontal disease, which can cause pockets to form in your gums that will trap minute amounts of alcohol
- Products such as Binaca breath spray, which can give false readings well into what would be lethal doses if it had come from drinking
- Medical conditions such as diabetes or a strict diet
- Pumping gas, inhaling paint fumes, or handling glues, which can cause Methyl Group compounds to be absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream
There are ways to calibrate Breathalyzers to account for some of these common sources of false readings, such as with diabetes or strict diets, but many police agencies are cash-strapped these days and don’t always do this. Also, before a Breathalyzer is administered, a certified operator should observe you for at least 15 minutes, something that is not always done.
The false positives and the machine’s range of errors make it critical that you to get a good DWI attorney if you have been charged. If you feel you have been wrongly accused of DWI contact us and get the defense you deserve.