Mouth Alcohol with Dentures or Dental Devices
The breath test machine used in Florida, the Intoxilyzer 8000, can give a subject an inflated reading if dental devices or dental work trap mouth alcohol. Any of the following can trap mouth alcohol:
- an orthodontic plate;
- dental adhesives;
- mouth piercings;
- tongue piercings;
- a temporary fake tooth; or
- a permanent retainer.
Although the machine is designed to distinguish between mouth alcohol and breath alcohol from the deep lungs, the timing of the last drink and the presence of dental work can greatly affect the breath test reading.
What is mouth alcohol? The term “mouth alcohol” means any alcohol that is present and unabsorbed in the mouth, which might cause the results of breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) reading to be elevated.
Florida law does not require the removal of dentures, an orthodontic plate, mouth piercings, permanent retainers, or other dental devices, nor does the law impose an obligation on the officer to inquire about the use of dentures or dental devices before or during the administration of alcohol tests.
In other states, such as Nevada, the breath test operator is trained to ask the subject to remove dental work, including dentures or partial dentures, before beginning the observation period.
In certain cases, the machine may detect the presence of mouth alcohol, which invalidates the result. A more common problem occurs when the machine does not detect the presence of mouth alcohol.
Instead, the mouth alcohol causes an inflated breath test reading that was intended to find only alcohol in the deep lung air.
Slope Detectors on the Intoxilyzer 8000
How does the breath test machine tell the difference between alcohol found in the mouth instead of the deep lung air?
The manufacturer of the Intoxilyzer 8000 has equipped the instrument with a “slope detectors” to help identify mouth alcohol. During a breath test, the Intoxilyzer 8000 was designed to measure alcohol content continuously over a period of time.
When mouth alcohol is present, it creates a different pattern than a normal breath sample. If there is no mouth alcohol in the sample, the Intoxilyzer 8000 was designed to return a continuous, though not linear, rise in breath alcohol level until it reaches a plateau.
When mouth alcohol is present, the Intoxilyzer 8000 was designed to register an error message showing that the slope was not level and experienced a sudden drop. Although the slope detector on the Intoxilyzer 8000 is useful, it is not perfect.
Problems with Breath Testing and Mouth Alcohol
If you took the breath test after a DUI arrest and believe the results may have been affected by fillings, an orthodontic place, dentures, or other dental work, contact a Tampa DUI Attorney at Sammis Law Firm.
During the initial consultation, we can explain important defenses that might exist in your case.
Your drunk driving attorney must gather evidence of when the last drink occurred and other evidence that may support this criminal defense in court.
Exploring defenses that are particular to your case is critical. Contact a criminal defense and DUI attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your drunk driving case and potential defenses.
Our DUI Lawyers represent clients throughout Hillsborough County, including cases at the courthouse in Tampa and Plant City, Florida.
Call 813-250-0500 today.
Submit this form to request a free and confidential consultation with one of our attorneys.