Why was your Breathalyzer reading higher than expected?

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2022 | DWI Defense

If the police ask you to take a Breathalyzer test, which leads to your arrest, challenging those results is a key defense option.

Let’s say you accept you drank something but are sure you did not drink enough to exceed the limit. What might explain the high reading? First, you might suspect that the machine lacked calibration. What if you rule that out? What then?

Did you drink something else without realizing it?

Did anyone serve you a punch they said was alcohol-free but maybe was not? Are you sure that when you asked for a low-alcohol beer, you got one? Or did someone confuse the bottles?

Have you been taking any medicines?

Have you had an annoying cough for the past few days? Did you take anything for it? Cough syrups are one of several types of legal medicines that can contain alcohol. One of the most popular “Nyquil Cough” is 25% alcohol by volume (ABV). While you are not meant to drink much of it, considering that most beers are around 3 to 5% ABV, you can see how even a small amount could affect your Breathalyzer reading.

Did you rinse your mouth shortly before being stopped?

Mouthwashes vary wildly in how much alcohol they contain. Listermint has 12%, Listerine has 26% and Dr. Tichener’s has a massive 70% ABV.  A shot of Tequila is only 40%.

Will a judge care how you consumed the alcohol?

Explaining that someone passed you the wrong bottle of beer or that you forgot you had taken cough medicine probably won’t lead a judge to drop the charges against you. Yet having the charges dropped is not always a realistic goal when facing DWI charges. Sometimes your best option is to ask the judge to consider such factors and limit the penalties they impose.

Getting legal help to examine the full range of DWI defense options will be essential to choosing the best one for your situation.

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