Obviously, alcoholic beverages increase someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and put them at risk of a drunk driving arrest. However, people do not necessarily need to enjoy a cocktail or beer for their BAC to test above the legal limit.
Some people enjoy other foods and beverages and then fail a test despite avoiding beer, wine and cocktails before driving. Occasionally, those arrested for an impaired driving offense can avoid a criminal conviction by showing the courts that something other than alcohol affected their BAC.
What kinds of foods or beverages could lead to a false positive during chemical testing?
Items with a low alcohol concentration
Most items with high levels of alcohol are only available to those over the age of 21. However, people can sometimes consume foods or beverages with low levels of alcohol, possibly despite being underage. Kombucha, a popular fermented health drink, is a perfect example. It has very low levels of alcohol that could potentially skew test results, especially if someone enjoys one immediately before a traffic stop.
There are also many foods prepared with alcohol in them, like rum cakes. Occasionally, due to either an unusually high amount of alcohol or undercooking, the alcohol included in those treats may not burn off during the cooking process, leading to someone failing a breath test.
Foods that mimic alcohol
Chemical breath tests actually look for a variety of different compounds, not just alcohol. People could potentially fail a breath test because of a completely different chemical, like acetone. Sugar-free gums, for example, contain ethanol that could cause a false positive on a test.
Foods that have alcohol-like compounds in them can trigger false positives. People have reported false positives after eating macadamia nuts, for example. High-sugar treats, including cinnamon rolls, also have an association with false positives during chemical breath testing.
Other foods that could cause false positive breath test results include:
- hot sauce and spicy foods
- energy drinks
- pure vanilla extract
- protein bars
- energy drinks
The details of someone’s unique situation often directly influence the best defense strategy when facing a drunk driving charge. Raising questions based on a person’s diet, especially if they can prove what they recently ate or drank, could work in some cases.