Despite the quirky fried food DUI defense we periodically read about in the headlines, food cannot cause a person to drink and drive. Nothing beer-battered, no “damn chicken nuggets,” not even that Coq au Vin or vodka sauce on your pasta will cause you to be impaired enough to have a .08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
But, alcohol… it has something to do with to blood alcohol concentration levels!
The alcohol in food is used to flavor the dishes, not intoxicate the masses. Ethyl alcohol (the kind we consume in beer, wine or liquor) burns off during the cooking process, leaving you with the equivalent of a near beer in your pretzels and cheese dip. That beer you’re drinking with your appetizer or the wine at your side is what affects your BAC. Too many of those drinks, even if you’re eating at the same time, and you’ll be looking at a DUI and a possible ignition interlock device if you choose to drive home.
If you have an ignition interlock device, there is an additional word of caution. The BAC limit on your device is much lower than a per se DUI BAC limit and can be affected by food or other liquids you consume that are legitimately non-alcoholic. Cough medicine or mouthwash can cause a false positive reading, just by the trace amounts left in your mouth after consuming the products. In rare cases, break or fruit in your mouth could cause a similar reading, too. If you’re ever in that situation, you can swish out your mouth with water before testing.
The only thing that affects a DUI BAC reading is the amount of actual alcoholic drinks you’ve had, not the food you’re eating. Feel free to pile on the marsala or damn chicken nuggets, just steer clear of washing those foods down with an alcohol chaser and you won’t have to worry about your BAC, a DUI or an ignition interlock requirement.