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Do hygiene products affect breathalyzer tests?

People have been trying to beat the breathalyzer test for many years. There is a myth that sucking on a copper penny causes a chemical reaction in your saliva to make you pass a breathalyzer test if you have been drinking and driving. There is no scientific basis at all for this claim, and today's pennies are made mostly of zinc. Do not try this. Another myth is that breath fresheners, mouthwash, or strong and stinky foods can mask the alcohol in your breath and lower the blood alcohol content (BAC) readings.

What can affect your BAC?

Many hygiene products can affect the BAC. Take a look at some of the items that might give a false positive BAC reading:

  • Mouthwash and breath sprays - many of these breath products use alcohol as part of the ingredients in the product.
  • Medications - some medications use alcohol as a base ingredient. Many cough syrups have low rates of alcohol, but these can raise the BAC.
  • Coffee - although coffee is thought to help a person sober up, it will not decrease or increase your BAC.
  • Perfumes and colognes - according to Ignition Interlock, you can get a failed breath test result if you are wearing a high concentration of an alcohol-based fragrance. Other companies say that it is highly unlikely to get an incorrect reading if you are wearing perfume because the breathalyzer only measures the air in the lungs.
  • Garlic or onions - these foods might mask the smell of alcohol, but will not change the BAC.

Generally, you should wait at least 15 minutes after putting anything in your mouth before taking a breath test.

In Iowa, law enforcement uses the DataMaster for breath tests. The DataMaster is highly accurate when it comes to BAC, but the tests must be administered correctly. There may be circumstances outside of your control that skewed the results. If you are being charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI), also known as a DUI or DWI, you should make sure that everything was done to ensure accuracy.

OWIs are serious business

In Iowa, refusing to take a breathalyzer test leads to an automatic license suspension. You may not have any driving privileges for a year. The consequences of driving under the influence are severe. An OWI stays on your license for many years and will follow you to every state. It could prohibit you from getting a job. You should make sure that you partner with an attorney experienced in OWIs to make a strong defense and ensure your rights are met throughout the legal process.

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