What Is Meant by Mouth Alcohol?

mouth alcoholAs you likely already know, a conviction for driving under the influence, or DUI, can have far-reaching negative consequences. Aside from the actual sentence handed down by the court, a DUI conviction can also have a negative impact on present and future employment opportunities among other non-judicial ramifications. While the State of Tennessee would like all defendants to believe that a conviction is inevitable, the reality is that there are often a number of potential defenses available to a defendant charged with DUI. One defense that may be available to you involves the presence of “mouth alcohol” at the time your chemical test was administered. To understand how this defense could work for you it is first necessary to know what is meant by mouth alcohol.

When a motorist is arrested for DUI the suspect is usually asked to submit to a chemical test. Typically, this means a breath test, the results of which indicate the level of breath alcohol concentration, or “BAC” the suspect has in his/her system. Though breath test machines are touted as being extremely accurate, the trust is that sometimes the results of a breath test are skewed because of the presence of “mouth alcohol”.

Mouth alcohol, as the term implies, refers to the presence of alcohol in your mouth itself. To understand why this matters you must understand how a Breathalyzer, or breath test, works. A Breathalyzer is a machine that measures the amount of alcohol in a suspects breath by testing the air expired by the suspect when the suspect blows into the machine. The machine is supposed to be testing the air that is found in your lungs. The machine then uses a complex formula that translates that level into an overall breath alcohol concentration, or BAC, level that is expressed as a percentage. A BAC of 0.08 percent or higher violates Tennessee’s drunk driving law.

When mouth alcohol is present, the mouth alcohol can mix with the alcohol found in your lungs, producing a false high on the test results. Depending on the amount of mouth alcohol in your mouth at the time the test is conducted, the test result can be significantly higher than what your BAC really is. Mouth alcohol occurs whenever anything has recently been in your mouth that produces alcohol. Some obvious causes of mouth alcohol include mouthwash or breath spray; however, there are a number of other substances that can also cause mouth alcohol. Some of these substances you may not even realize contain or produce alcohol such as:

• Chewing tobacco

• Blood

• Cold medication

• Metal from dental work or piercings

• Dental caps and bridges

• Acid reflux or GERD

• Vomit or hiccups

If you believe your breath test results may have been higher than they should have been as a result of the presence of mouth alcohol during your test, consult with the experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.


Dinah Michael