Even though drunk driving offenses are some of the most common police investigations, they’re also some of the most complex investigations that a law enforcement officer has to complete. Conducting a DUI investigation requires personal observations, field sobriety tests and chemical testing. All of these steps must be accomplished according to established procedures and rules in order to make sure that the investigation is conducted honestly and accurately.
Breath testing in alcohol DUI cases
One of the important steps in an alcohol DUI case is the breathalyzer testing. There are two types of breath tests that a law enforcement officer might administer during an alcohol DUI investigation. One of the tests is a test at the side of the road. The device used for testing at the side of the road is a small, handheld device. The instrument produces an estimate of a person’s intoxication levels.
At the police station, the chemical testing instrument is more sophisticated. Like the handheld device, the chemical test at the police station measures the alcohol content in a person’s body by measuring the alcohol in their breath. However, these testing instruments only produce accurate results when the people who administer them use them properly.
What is mouth alcohol?
Mouth alcohol is the common term for alcohol present in the mouth that can cause an alcohol test to produce an inaccurate result. Mouth alcohol is alcohol that may be directly in a person’s mouth when the person submits to a chemical test. When a person has alcohol in their mouth, the testing instrument may misread the person’s bodily alcohol content and produce a reading that is too high. Mouth alcohol is a complication that can render an alcohol test invalid.
How does mouth alcohol invalidate a result?
A chemical breath test works by measuring the air in the person’s lungs. The test collects a sample from the person’s breath and then measures how much alcohol is in the sample. The density of the alcohol in the breath becomes the test result and the measure of the person’s bodily alcohol content.
The purpose of the test is to measure the alcohol in a person’s body. The purpose of the test is not to determine how much alcohol there is in a person’s mouth at the time of the test. A person may have alcohol in their mouth without having alcohol in their body. A person may smell like alcohol without being over the legal limit.
The presence of alcohol in the mouth can skew the test results. Mouth alcohol can push an extra amount of alcohol into the breath sample that the person submits for the test. The end result can be that the result of the test is much higher than the person’s actual bodily alcohol content level.
What should law enforcement do to prevent mouth alcohol from skewing test results in DUI cases?
When law enforcement administers a chemical test, they are supposed to enact safeguards to make sure that mouth alcohol doesn’t produce inaccurate test results. Before a law enforcement officer asks you to take a chemical test, they should observe you for 20 minutes. They should watch you to make sure that you don’t drink, that you don’t put anything in your mouth and that you don’t vomit or regurgitate. The waiting period should be sufficient to ensure that your test result doesn’t produce an inaccurate reading.
What does a mouth alcohol test result look like?
A test where mouth alcohol is a factor often produces a test result that’s much higher than a person’s intoxication level. Waiting the prescribed 20 minutes should be enough to clear the alcohol from the person’s mouth and produce an accurate test result. When there are wide swings in a person’s test results, it’s a sign that there could be a problem in testing procedures.
What to do if mouth alcohol is a factor in your case
If mouth alcohol is an issue, the result might be that the test results are inadmissible. When law enforcement doesn’t conduct chemical testing with the proper safeguards in order to ensure that the test results are accurate, they can’t admit the results of the chemical test against you. An experienced DUI attorney can help you review the chemical testing in your case to see if the police followed the rules when they performed the tests.
In order to exclude the evidence in your case, you can bring a motion to the court ahead of your trial. It’s up to the judge to decide whether to admit the chemical testing in your case. It’s up to the jury to decide if the evidence is credible. You can argue to both the judge and the jury that the chemical testing in your case is invalid because of mouth alcohol.