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What Does ‘Mouth Alcohol’ Mean in DUI Cases?

  • May 25, 2017

    In Los Angeles California, you will be arrested and charged under DUI laws if you are found operating a vehicle with a minimum of .08 BAC. For the purpose of determining your BAC, law enforcement officers employ a breath test to detect the presence of alcohol in your mouth while testing the air deep inside your lungs, referred to as alveolar air. Upon suspecting that you were driving under the influence of alcohol, the law enforcement officer will require you to blow a long, continuous breath into the breathalyzer. This allows them to determine the percentage of alcohol vapor released by your blood as it pumped into and out of your lungs.

    The test has been found to be inconclusive because it overlooks other sources of alcohol vapor that could interfere with the test, irrespective of your being intoxicated or not. For instance, if you had rinsed your mouth using an alcohol-based mouthwash such as Listerine shortly prior to taking the test, your breath could still have some alcohol taste and smell. This alcohol residue in your mouth could interfere with the test or even affect the results so a great deal that you seem to fail the DUI tests. In such circumstances, you will need to raise the defense of “Mouth alcohol,” which is rarely used but is highly effective in DUI cases. To enhance the effectiveness of your defense, you will want to hire a knowledgeable person in this field of law to represent you, preferably a Los Angeles DUI attorney.

    What other Things Causes “Mouth Alcohol”?

    Other than mouthwash, there are variable possible causes of “mouth alcohol,” including the following.

    Chewing tobacco; it often contains pure ethyl alcohol
    Breath sprays and mints that usually consist small amounts of alcohol
    Herbal medicine like tinctures that are mixed with some alcohol
    Alcohol based cough syrups
    Dental bridges, dentures and dental caps that will often trap alcohol that was consumed earlier
    Vomiting or burping after taking alcohol
    Acid reflux or GERD.

    Can you Use the Mouth Alcohol Defense if you were Actually Drinking?

    Under the California DUI laws, having a few drinks and driving is not necessarily a crime. It only becomes illegal if your BAC reaches .80 percent or the alcohol impaired your driving if for instance you were spotted weaving or driving dangerously. In a hypothetical case where you had two beers with your friends and decided to drive home only to encounter a pull over by a traffic officer and made to take a breath test, you shouldn’t worry even if the device reads above .08%.Chances are that your BAC is well below .08 percent, causing no impairment to your driving and the “mouth alcohol” could have caused the false reading. Contacting Los Angeles DUI lawyers will allow you access to a fair hearing and effectively employ the “mouth alcohol” defense to prove that the two beers you took did not put you over the limit as falsely demonstrated by the breathalyzer.

    Los Angeles law enforcement officers are required to apply a 15 minute observation period before conducting the breath test on you. This would serve to ensure that you don’t burp, vomit or use breath products to reduce the risk of mouth alcohol. However, this doesn’t always work especially because these officers are often distracted and too occupied with other activities to closely watch the observation period. It, therefore, follows that you can still rely on the “mouth alcohol” defense regardless of having been observed. You will, therefore, require the assistance of Los Angeles DUI attorneys to dispute the results of the breath test even if a police officer observed you. Besides, 15 minutes may not be sufficient for mouth alcohol to subside—this is dependent on the source of the mouth alcohol.

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