Used mouthwash? You could fail a breath test

Here’s something to think about. Have you ever had an officer stop you for a traffic ticket and quickly use a small travel-sized mouthwash to freshen up your breath? Have you used mints containing mouthwash while you drove, or quickly used mouthwash before heading to work or school?

If you have recently used mouthwash containing alcohol, then you could be in for a surprise if an officer stops you and asks if you’ve been drinking. Mouthwash notoriously smells like alcohol, which can make officers ask you to take a Breathalyzer test, even if you haven’t been drinking.

You’re unlikely to refuse, considering you actually haven’t been drinking, but you need to know that the mouthwash could throw off the test. In fact, you could fail a Breathalyzer test if you have used mouthwash within around 10 minutes prior.

What should you do if you’re stopped for a traffic offense and asked to take a Breathalyzer test?

If you’re stopped, it’s okay to let the officer know that you just used mouthwash. They should take one test and then wait a predetermined time between that and a second test, usually somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes. By doing this, there should be enough time for the test to read accurately the second time, if not the first.

If you are arrested following this stop but know that you only used mouthwash, it’s a good idea to talk to your attorney about the accusations. You may also want to seek a blood test, since you would have little, or no, alcohol in your bloodstream from the mouthwash. That simple test could be enough to clear your name.