Alcohol or Mouthwash: Is My Ignition Interlock Broken?

ignition interlockAn ignition interlock device (IID) provides assurance to the court, law enforcement and to the public that a person driving is not under the influence of alcohol by measuring the blood alcohol content (BAC) of a driver through a breath sample. However, there can be times when the actual consumption of alcohol can come into question – especially when an IID test is positive, and the convicted drunk driving offender has not been drinking beer, wine or liquor, but merely keeping his or her breath fresh.

Certain products like mouthwash may contain alcohol, but, in a smaller percentage than a standard bar drink that will not cause intoxication. This alcohol, especially in the case of a mouthwash or breath spray, can remain in the mouth for several minutes after using the product. If a person with an ignition interlock blows into the device too soon after using mouthwash or using breath spray, it is possible to have a “false positive” IID test result.  Unfortunately, the ignition interlock device will record this false positive, and, unless a clean breath sample is provided at the next test interval (usually within a few minutes), the reporting agency will be notified and further action could be taken against the convicted drunk driving offender.

Because of the complications attributed to products containing alcohol, it is strongly recommended that a person waits at least 20 minutes to provide a breath sample after using mouthwash or any other alcohol-based products in the mouth. Also, these products, if ingested, will result in a positive test result, as they do contain the same kind of alcohol found in wine, beer or other spirits. Many ignition interlock service providers also recommend that a person forego these types of mouthwashes or breath sprays and use products that do not contain alcohol at all.

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