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4 factors that can lead to inaccurate breathalyzer readings

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2023 | DUI

Being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint only to fail a breathalyzer test when you haven’t drunk or have a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) after a glass of wine can be frustrating. Different factors can affect a breathalyzer’s reading.

Below are four of them:


Some medications, such as cold, asthma and allergy medications, contain alcohol. Mouthwashes and breath sprays also contain significant amounts of alcohol that can skew a BAC reading.

If you take meds or refresh your breath before a breathalyzer test, you can get inaccurate results.


Some foods, particularly fermented ones, contain alcohol that can affect a breathalyzer test. Examples include fruit and fruit juices, bread, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, vinegar, vanilla extract and cooking wine.


If you drink a carbonated alcoholic drink, such as sparkling wine or champagne, your BAC reading may be higher than expected. Carbonation increases the movement of alcohol into the bloodstream – the pressure inside the stomach and small intestine will force alcohol into the bloodstream more quickly.

You may need to reconsider carbonated drinks as a dessert when going toward a checkpoint.

Medical conditions

Some medical conditions can result in a false positive on a breathalyzer test. Acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) cause stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus. If you had food that contained alcohol or a glass of wine, alcohol can flow back with the acid, resulting in an increased BAC reading.

Diabetes can also potentially cause a false positive.

If you believe your BAC reading is inaccurate, get legal help to defend yourself and your driving record.