Mouth Alcohol and DWIs

mouth alcoholWhen someone is pulled over for a driving while impaired offense, they will often be asked to perform a breathalyzer test. This test is usually conducted at the Wake County Jail.

This test is usually performed on a device called an Intox EC/IR II. Under North Carolina law, a person generally must register at least two samples within a specific period of time in order for the test to be considered valid. In most cases, if two samples are registered, the lower of the two samples will be considered the breath alcohol concentration for that test.

The breathalyzer machine is intended to measure deep breath alcohol content for that person. The machine is supposed to rule out any mouth alcohol.

North Carolina procedure has two features intended to keep mouth alcohol from being registered as a breath alcohol concentration for the test. First, the chemical analyst must wait at least 15 minutes before administering the test to the driver. Second, the machine itself has an infrared detector which is intended to measure whether there is mouth alcohol present in the breath s

While North Carolina insists that the machine is reliable, few if any defense attorneys have actually been able to examine the inner workings of the in talks meter machine. In 2010, I contacted the manufacturer and talked to a representative in order to attempt to purchase the machine and was told that they would not sell the machine to me.

So while manufacturer claims that the machine excludes mouth alcohol from the results, experts independent of the states have at this point not fully examined the machine.

The problem with mouth alcohol is that it can artificially inflate the breath alcohol concentration of the driver creating a result much higher than the driver's blood or breath alcohol concentration.


Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.