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OWI without alcohol consumption is possible

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2021 | Traffic Offenses

Do you believe it’s impossible to face an arrest for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) in Wisconsin when you haven’t consumed any alcohol prior to getting behind the wheel? If you answered yes, you’re definitely not the only one who thinks this is a logical assumption. However, it’s not true. There have, indeed, been many cases in the past where police have arrested people on suspicion of drunk driving when they had not consumed an alcoholic beverage of any kind.

You’re likely wondering how that could be possible. The fact is that many substances or commercial products can trigger a false positive on a breath test. It’s a good idea to know more about this topic ahead of time so that you can be as well-informed as possible if a Wisconsin police officer ever pulls you over and asks you to step out of your vehicle, which is usually a sign that he or she suspects OWI.

Your fresh breath might cause a breath test problem

Perhaps you’re on your way to a business meeting or to meet a special someone for a date night. Just before getting behind the wheel, you swished a hefty dose of mouthwash to ensure that you’ll have fresh breath in close quarters. En route to your destination, you see flashing red and blue lights in your rearview mirror. You pull over.

After a police officer asks you to exit your vehicle, you submit to a breath test and wind up in the back of a police car, under arrest for suspected drunk driving. A main ingredient in the mouthwash you used earlier could have been alcohol, which might have caused a false positive on your breath test.

Yeast is a food ingredient that can register as alcohol on your breath

Have you ever eaten hot cross buns or other types of sweet bread? What about macadamia nuts, pecans or ripened fruit? Each of these food items contains yeast or other ingredients that can cause false positives on a preliminary alcohol screening test.

It’s not only what you eat that can cause a problem, either. Energy drinks are popular nowadays. If you drink them, remember that they, too, can cause you to wind up facing an arrest for suspected drunk driving during a traffic stop.

A test may detect alcohol on your breath if you’ve been painting

There are significant amounts of alcohol in products such as paint, paint thinners and other chemical-based items, such as petrol. While it sounds crazy that you could be stirring paint thinner and updating the walls in your home one minute, then dash to the store to buy some supplies and wind up in police custody for suspected DWI the next without having consumed an alcoholic beverage, it’s possible, and the paint products might have caused a false positive on your breath test.

Numerous health conditions can cause positive breath test results

Perhaps you’re one of many people in Wisconsin who have diabetes, hypoglycemia or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Each of these conditions can trigger a false positive on an alcohol screening breath test.

Navigating the criminal justice system

OWI is not a traffic offense; it’s a crime.  It’s understandable that you’d feel confused, stressed and worried if a police officer arrests you for suspected drunk driving, and you know you did not consume an alcoholic beverage.

In such cases, it’s important to know your rights and to remember that every person charged with a crime is guaranteed an opportunity to refute those charges in court by presenting a defense.

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