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The breath test: We're not talking Tic Tacs here

Do you use mouthwash? Have you ever taken cough syrup then driven your car? Does it sound ridiculous to you that the same question should pose those two things as though there might be potential negative consequences? If so, you may be among many in California who would be surprised to learn that all of the above can adversely affect the results of Breathalyzer tests.

Drinking and driving is a very serious and controversial issue throughout the nation. Many lives are lost when intoxicated people choose to get behind the wheel. However, on the other side of the issue, authorities falsely accuse many people of drunk driving, which devastates their private and professional lives; in fact, the courts sometimes wrongly convicted drivers and send them to jail. That too, is a tremendously serious problem.

Breathalyzer devices and appropriate calibration

Police often use a Breathalyzer device to measure blood alcohol content in a person's body. Such tests may occur during or following traffic stops when police say they have reason to believe drivers are acting under the influence of alcohol. It's important to note that it doesn't take much to satisfy reasonable suspicion requirements. In fact, it may be as minor as an officer saying your rear tire went a little distance over the yellow line or the officer claimed to smell alcohol on your breath when you said hello.

The problem is that many of these devices are not properly calibrated, which can negatively affect test results. In order to produce consistently accurate results, a Breathalyzer device must be checked regularly and appropriately serviced and maintained. This often does not occur. Faulty devices can lead to wrongful criminal convictions unless, of course, aggressive defense attorneys can show evidence that proper calibration did not take place, whereby the court would rule the test results are inadmissible.

So what does that have to do with cough syrup and mouthwash?

In addition to calibration issues, Breathalyzer devices often register false alcohol content readings if a motorist ingests or consumes product ingredients that include alcohol. For instance, many cough syrups contain alcohol. Also, using a mouthwash with high alcohol content in its ingredients can produce results that suggest you were intoxicated while driving when all you really did was freshen your breath before your date.

Even certain adverse health conditions like diabetes can affect a person's breath in such a way that they may throw off results from a Breathalyzer test. Knowing these facts, you can see why it's crucial to align yourself with an experienced California defense attorney before facing drunk driving charges in court.

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