The police can pull over vehicles when there’s reasonable suspicion that a driver is drunk. Maybe the police noticed someone using their vehicle after leaving a bar or the driver was swerving, running red lights and speeding. Whatever the case may be, the police may conduct a breath test to prove whether the driver is, in fact, drunk.
It’s common for police to conduct chemical tests on suspected drunk drivers. They may perform a standardized field sobriety test, but these typically don’t yield as accurate results as chemical tests. The police may have a driver use a breath test, which can be used during a traffic stop. A breath test is a small portable machine that evaluates a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC).
Someone’s BAC is the amount of alcohol in their bloodstream. A higher reading means that a driver has a large content of alcohol in their system, which indicates more significant levels of intoxication. A 0.08% BAC reading means that a driver is officially too drunk to safely drive (even if they don’t look it) and will usually lead to a drunk driving charge.
While these machines are often accurate, there are things drivers may do that can raise a BAC reading. Here’s what you should know:
Using mouthwash and body spray
Mouthwash, breath spray, cologne, perfume and breath mints are all commonly used to make someone smell fresher. People also may use these consumer products to mask the smell of alcohol. Whether they use these products to impress someone or to hide the smell of alcohol from the police, they may raise a BAC reading. That’s because many of these products have some trace amounts of alcohol in order to get that fresh smell.
Many people have asthma. As a result, they must take certain medications, such as albuterol, salmeterol and budesonide to settle their breathing. But, these medicines can increase a BAC reading because they often contain ethanol — which is what a breath test measures. The more recently someone’s taken an inhaler, the more likely they’re “read high” on a breath test.
Your legal options
Just one unfortunate traffic stop can affect the rest of your life. If you believe you were wrongly accused of drunk driving, then it may help to learn about your legal options.