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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71042
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I was interested in mouth alcohol and its effect on breathalyzer

Customer Question

I was interested in mouth alcohol and its effect on breathalyzer tests. I understand that in general police normally observe the subject for 20 minutes before administering a breath test in order to ensure no "burping"' or vomiting etc has taken place. That is that there be no reason for mouth alcohol.

My question is, if a machine such as an INTOX EC/IR ii detects mouth alcohol mid way during a test and aborts that test. Can the re-test take place immediately after? Or should there be a suitable period of time between that the 2nd test in case "regurgatory" motion caused the abortion of the 1st test?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 5 years ago.

Why do you think police would observe people 20 mins before taking the test?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
A person suspected of an alcohol related motoring offence will be required to provide two evidential specimens of breath. The breath specimen reading with the lower proportion of alcohol will be used as prosecution evidence (if above the legal limit) and the other reading will be discarded.

Before commencing an evidential breath test, a police officer will ask the suspect:

"Have you in the last twenty minutes:
consumed any alcohol?
used any mouth spray?
used any mouth wash?
used any medication?
eaten anything?
inhaled anything?
taken anything?
brought anything up from your stomach?" (this is asked of Intoximeter EC/IR users only)

If a suspect has done any of the above then 20 minutes must be waited since the time of the event before the evidential alcohol breath test is performed.

"from my understanding the last on the list is to ensure there is no mouth alcohol, which can skew the reading"
Expert:  Jo C. replied 5 years ago.
Yes, so why do you think the police will observe a person for 20 mins?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
To ensure that you have not taken anything anything such as mouth wash, or vomitted which will increase your mouth alcohol levels and will distort any readings from a breathalyser which is testing for alcohol level in your lungs. So therefore could be used as a defence when contesting a breathalyser test.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 5 years ago.
All that happens with a drink driving procedure is that the police ask if you have consumed alcohol or other substance quoted above within 20 mins.

If the answer is no then the procedure goes ahead.

If the answer is yes then they wait 20 mins. There is no obligation to observe a person as this is usually conducted in police custody by which time people are booked into custody and any substance offending removed from them.

The 2nd test could take place immediately afterwards though. It would still be more than 20 mins from the consumption of alcohol.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I had 3 tests, the 1st was aborted because mouth alcohol was detected while I blew.... The 2nd and 3rd was conducted immediately after.

I refer to the operation manual of the machine (,131,81,1,Documents&MediaID=6614dc17-a94b-4820-87f3-c1beb029bedf&Filename=Intox-EC-IR-IIResource-Reading-Material.pdf )' points 2 and 3 on page 51. My view is that I burped during the 1st test and hence mouth alcohol was detected, therefore should there no be a further observation period?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 5 years ago.
I'm very sorry but I cannot agree.

Thats a canadian document anyway.

you can challenge the test on that basis but it would be irresponsible of me to tell you that you were likely to win.