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What Foods Give a False Positive on a Breathalyzer?

man using a breathalyzer in a car during a Florida DUI stop.

Be aware of these common foods that can affect breathalyzer test results and lead to a DUI charge.

One of the most trusted tools used by Florida to enforce DUI laws is the breathalyzer. These devices are designed to measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC) by analyzing breath samples. Breathalyzers are also used with ignition interlock devices (IIDs) that people convicted of DUI may be required to have installed in their vehicles.

The problem is that a lot can go wrong with a breath test, and they often do not give a reliable measure of BAC. This is because breathalyzer tests need to be administered in a certain way. There are also other factors that may lead to an incorrect result or false positive.

What can cause a false positive?

One of these factors is food and other products. Even if you were not drinking alcohol, some types of food and hygiene products could give a false reading – and if you have an IID installed, prevent you from starting your vehicle. They include:

  • Mouthwash – Many types of mouthwash contain a high percentage of alcohol – as high as 26% in some brands. So even though you don’t ingest mouthwash, there could be enough alcohol on your breath to register a false positive.
  • Breath spray – As with mouthwash, many breath freshener sprays contain high amounts of alcohol, which can lead to a positive reading on the device.
  • Spicy foods – When digested, spicy foods can create methane gas, which the device may confuse for alcohol.
  • Foods with yeast – The dough used in bread, pastry, pizza, soft pretzels, English muffins, and other baked goods rises due to fermented yeast. Therefore, a small amount of such food still in the mouth could be enough to register a positive reading on the device.
  • Fruit drinks and other beverages – There can be some fermentation in fruit drinks, kombucha, and energy drinks that produces a minimal amount of alcohol but enough to register on your interlock device.
  • Vinegar – Some types of vinegar are made from wine and contain trace amounts of alcohol. Not nearly enough to cause impairment, but possibly enough to lead to a false positive.
  • Vanilla extract – Per FDA standards, pure vanilla extract must contain 35% alcohol. While there may not be much in cookies or other desserts, it could lead to a positive reading.
  • Low-carbohydrate diets – People with diabetes and others who are on low-carb diets may enter ketosis, a process in which the body burns fat for energy. This can create acetone, leading to a false positive on a device.

Charged with DUI in Northeast Florida? Call an experienced DUI attorney from Aguilar & Sieron, P.A.

If you are getting a false positive on an IID, try rinsing your mouth with water, wait 15 minutes, then try again. If you were arrested for DUI after taking a breathalyzer test, talk to an experienced Florida DUI attorney as soon as possible.

A DUI conviction can have serious consequences that impact the rest of your life. These include fines, jail time, the loss of your driver’s license, and the potential loss of your job. That’s why you need a lawyer ready to fight for you.

For decades, attorney Mark Sieron of Aguilar & Sieron, P.A. has been defending the rights of people facing drunk driving charges. He knows the DUI laws and how to challenge breathalyzer results, and he is dedicated to getting the best possible outcome in your case.

If you were arrested for DUI in Clay County or anywhere in Northeast Florida, learn more about how we can help. Contact us today to schedule a free case consultation.

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