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How oral care habits could lead to a Pennsylvania DUI charge

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2023 | DUI Defense

Many driving under the influence (DUI) cases in Pennsylvania depend heavily on forensic evidence. Police officers can arrest people for being over the legal limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) even if their driving was normal.

People do not need to swerve all over the street or cause a crash to face DUI charges. Simply failing a chemical breath test can be an adequate reason for an officer to arrest someone and a prosecutor to bring charges against them. Some people get arrested for a DUI because they have made the wrong choice about when to drive. They may have underestimated the strength of the drink they enjoyed during happy hour, for example.

Others could potentially fail a breath test due to perfectly innocent choices that they make. For example, certain oral hygiene or grooming habits could actually increase someone’s risk of a DUI charge.

Seeking fresh breath can skew test results

Researchers have known for decades that mouthwash with alcohol in it can alter the accuracy of breath test results. If someone gets pulled over within moments of using mouthwash, the alcohol left behind by their mouthwash could very well trigger a false positive on a breath test. The same is true when people use special sprays intended to freshen their breath.

Many of these products contain trace amounts of alcohol that are not sufficient to actually increase someone’s BAC. However, they can affect the accuracy of test results during a traffic stop. The device reads the alcohol in someone’s mouth instead of the air they exhale. A police officer is unlikely to take someone’s word that their recent use of mouthwash or breath spray is what caused the false positive. They could decide to arrest someone even if the driver has a reasonable explanation and does not appear visibly intoxicated.

Motorists accused of a DUI could face an assortment of challenging penalties if they plead guilty or the courts convict them. When people have a plausible explanation for failing a breath test, they may have a basis for a viable defense strategy if they go to trial. Creating a reasonable doubt about whether someone was actually drunk at the wheel may help prevent a DUI conviction in Pennsylvania.



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