Breath Mints and Breathalyzers – A Bad Combination
Breathalyzers have many problems. People do not administrator them correctly. They are inaccurate. They are not calibrated correctly. One problem that frequently is not discussed is a breathalyzer's inability to determine the source of the alcohol it is detecting on a person's breath. This problem is mainly between the air coming from the lungs and that coming from the mouth or throat.
A breathalyzer's internal computer assures that all air it is analyzing is alveolar air. Alveolar air is air from deep in the lungs. As such, the internal computer asserts that all alcohol it is detecting is from the lungs. Because of this assumption, the breathalyzer will take whatever amount of alcohol it detects and multiply it by the partition ratio. Unfortunately, all air that is expelled must pass through portions of the throat and all of the mouth. This means that if there is alcohol there, for whatever reason, it will be picked up by the air and carried into the breathalyzer.
While this may not sound like a big deal to those who assume that everyone who takes the breathalyzer is drunk, it is a big deal to those who have not had anything to drink and are merely guilty of good oral hygiene. How could they have a BAC over .08 with good oral hygiene? Well, it all comes down to the mouthwash or spray that is used. Breath fresheners and mouthwash contain alcohol. Listerine, in fact, is 27% alcohol. Scope is 19% alcohol. Atring-O-Sol is made up of 76% alcohol. Many might ask why mouthwash needs alcohol. Mouthwash uses alcohol because alcohol has long been known to kill germs and bacteria. For this reason, myrly brushing your teeth and using mouthwash afterwards can result in a high reading on any breathalyzer machine.
The problem with assuming that mouth air alcohol is lung air alcohol is that the mouth air alcohol has not been absorbed by the stomach and intestines and passed into the blood that way. In addition, the teeth can trap alcohol which can be released into the breathalyzer.
The problem of Listerine drunks has gotten such attention that many mouthwash producing companies have started developing alcohol-free mouthwash options. A breathalyzer is incapable of differentiating between alveolar air, air from deep in the lungs which would have alcohol from the blood, and mouth, throat, or stomach alcohol which would not contain alcohol from the blood.
For more information on the problems with breathalyzers, please visit http://www.dallas-dwi-lawyers.com .