What Causes False Alcohol Readings

How Food Can Create a False Positive

Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal in every state. Of course, you already know that. But did you know that more than 1.5 million people are arrested every single year for DUI.  This means that more than 4,100 people every day are operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher. That’s a scary though right there.

However, did it ever occur to you that some of these folks are actually innocent? The percentage may be low, but some people do fail their breath test during a regular stop because of the food they ate.

Although we live in a Jetsons-like age filled with some of the most technologically advanced devices in human history, breathalyzers are relics of the 20th century. And the matter of fact is – they are not so reliable. Couple that with the fact that some of the food we consume may even make you fail a drug test and you get a deadly combination.

Breathalyzers can be fooled by a number of non-alcoholic food items, beverages, and even ordinary household products. But how does this even happen…

How Different Products Items Create False Positives

The explanation behind this is very simple – some foods and beverages really do contain small traces of alcohol in them. For instance, some medical products out there such as Nyquil and regular Mouthwash use an alcohol base.

Furthermore, some dishes even include wine, beer, and hard liquor as their main ingredient. While it’s true that you can’t really get drunk from the amount of alcohol in these product, they can certainly raise your alcohol levels. Some of them can raise it enough to register on a breathalyzer during a breath test.

Even innocent foods can raise your alcohol levels. Recently, NC attorney James McGee proved that just one honey bun can raise your BAC up to 0,015%, according to a West 6 report.

You should also watch out while eating bread. According to a test conducted by an Alabama attorney, Phil Price, bread can also fool the most-widely used breathalyzer on the market – the Intoxilyzer 5000. His claims were actually backed up by tests from the Washington State Toxicology Laboratory.

And make no mistake, even if the food you’ve eaten hours before your routine stop hasn’t raised your breath/blood alcohol level to 0.08% you still can be charged with DUI. It’s just one of many DUI myths that you can’t be charged if your BAC is below 0, 08%.

The fact is, even if your BAC is under the legal limit, you can still be easily convicted for driving under the influence if the officer thinks your driving was affected by the level of alcohol in your blood.

Food Items, Beverages, and Products that Cause False Readings

Ok, it’s true that no one can give you a complete list of products that might make you fail a breath test, because we still don’t actually know all of the products that have this effect on our bodies. However, there are some widely-known products that cause false positives. Some of them include:

Food Items:

  • Ripe Fruit (pulp of ripe fruits contains ethanol at concentrations of up to 0.9%)
  • Protein Bars (these bars are filled with odorless syrupy substances that increase your BAC)
  • Hot Sauce (some hot sauces list tequila as one of their main ingredients)
  • Sugar-free Gums (these gums contain sugar alcohols to replace sugar and provide sweetness)
  • White Breads (sourdough and white breads contain a certain amount of alcohol)
  • Honey Buns (we still don’t know how alcoholic they are but they cause a false positive for sure)
  • Vanilla Extract (this extract is really alcoholic, like 70-proof alcoholic)


  • Non-alcoholic Drinks (despite their name, these drinks actually contain a certain amount)
  • Energy Drinks (there’s a long list of energy drinks that contain up to 12% alcohol)
  • Fermented Beverages (most sodas are soft but alcohol can be a product of fermentation)

Other Products:

  • Hand Sanitizers (one regular bottle of hand sanitizer contains the equivalent of 5 liquor shots)
  • Nyquil (considering its taste, it’s no wonder Nyquil contains so much alcohol)
  • Mouthwash (some mouthwashes out there are close to 30% alcohol)
  • Wiper Fluid (although it contains a ton of alcohol, it’s not the kind we usually drink)

How to Handle This Problem?

If you care for your looks or overall wellbeing, you should definitely watch while you eat. And while some foods and alcoholic beverages out there will only damage your teeth and increase your dental bills, others will get you arrested. This means you have to be extra cautious about what you eat.

Let’s face it – you don’t want to find yourself getting arrested because of a faulty, out-of-date breathalyzer – only because you didn’t pay attention to what you ate. Once again, take a look at the products we listed above, memorize them, and watch out for them the next you plan on driving.

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