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What Can Cause a False Positive on a Breathalyzer Test


Police officers often use a breath test—commonly known as a breathalyzer—to determine a suspected drunk driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC), which is the amount of alcohol present in the bloodstream. However, there are several factors that can influence the results, even leading to false positives.

The following are common causes of false positive results in breath tests:

  • Medication – Over-the-counter medicines and prescription drugs may contain alcohol. If you have taken medication that has alcohol as an ingredient, it can lead to a false positive breath test.
  • Health conditions – Acid reflux, gastrointestinal reflux disease, and other medication conditions can increase the BAC levels while taking a breath test because of the acid in the esophagus or stomach.
  • Food – Sometimes what you eat can lead to a false positive. For example, bread and other baked goods include yeasts that also create a residential amount of alcohol that remains after the baking process. Common types of foods that can cause false readings also include Honey Buns, ripe fruits, protein bars, hot sauces, sugarless gums, and dishes cooked in alcohol.
  • Breath fresheners – While you may use a breath mint or mouthwash to disguise any trace of alcohol, breath fresheners can cause you to fail a breath test. While mouthwash contains alcohol, mints and gum contain sugar substitutes that can lead to a false positive result.

If you have been arrested for an OWI and you believe that the breath test results are inaccurate, our Milwaukee OWI attorney at Cherella Law can help you avoid getting charged or going to jail. For more information, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.

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