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Virginia DUI lawyer on risks of bread-eating with the interlock

Virginia DUI lawyer pursuing your best defense, since 1991

Sep 27, 2017 Virginia DUI lawyer on risks of bread-eating with the interlock

Virginia DUI lawyer


As a Virginia DUI lawyer, I know how inaccurate are the breath testing machines used for checking breath alcohol content (“BAC”) levels in people. The Intox EC/IR II machine used for introducing BAC evidence are fraught with inaccuracy. Preliminary breath test machines are even more inaccurate, both because of the equipment itself but also because police do not automatically apply the twenty minute observation period required with the Intox EC/IR II. The ignition interlock alcohol testing machine required for at least the first six months of restricted driving on a Virginia DUI conviction is even more inaccurate, remaining in an unsecure location and is not operated by a trained police officer.

Clearly, blood testing is more accurate than breath testing for determining a person’s blood alcohol content. However, police are resistant to arranging blood tests, with that taking more time and resources than doing breath testing. One police officer recently told me that even if a suspect who is not providing sufficient breath into the Intox EC/IR II machine requests a blood test, he might still not arrange a blood test, lest the suspect refuse a blood test by the time the suspect arrives at the hospital for a blood draw. (This police officer is not located in Fairfax, Virginia, where DUI blood draws are done at the same county jail where the Intox EC/IR II was administered.)

Sometimes a client charged with violating probation by receiving a positive alcohol check on the ignition interlock will say s/he was in a bar and got alcohol spilled on him or her. On the one hand, it appears that such a situation might set off the ignition interlock. On the other hand, people need to recognize and consider avoiding substances that might create a positive alcohol reading on breath alcohol testing equipment, and realize that adding imbibed alcoholic beverages adds all the more to what the breath alcohol reading will be.

Fortunately, as a Virginia DUI lawyer, I have learned that at least we have science to present to judges and jurors to back up DUI defendant claims of substances other than imbibed alcohol causing positive alcohol breath testing machine readings, including:

Eating bread can cause positive breath alcohol testing machine readings, due to the yeast therein. This article from the Washington State toxicology laboratory backs that up.

– Numerous soaps, sunscreens, and other topical health and beauty products contain alcohol and can cause positive breath alcohol testing machine readings. This webpage from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation backs that up.

What does all this mean? Not to be a killjoy, but I urge people not to drive within twenty-four hours after imbibing alcohol. Although moderate drinking may not require a full twenty-four hours to avoid a DUI conviction, it is better to overcover risk in this regard. I also urge knowing and bewaring any alcohol-based products that might set off an alcohol breath testing machine.

Northern Virginia DUI lawyer Jon Katz has successfully defended DUI defendants since 1991. His devotion to effective DUI defense is exemplified by his being among the small percentage of Virginia DUI practitioners who are members of the National College for DUI Defense. For a confidential consultation about your DUI or criminal case, please schedule an appointment through Jon’s staff at 703-383-1100. 

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