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Can a burp throw off a breath test?

An assumption people make about breath tests is often that they’re very accurate and dependable. They assume they can rely on the results in almost every case. After all, breath tests are one of the most common sources of evidence in drunk driving cases across the United States every year, so they must be incredibly reliable, right?

In actuality, breathalyzers are very finicky and they often get things wrong. Even the smallest outside factors can influence the test. For example, if a person burps while they take the test, this can put more alcohol content into their mouth and breath than actually exists in their blood. 

The police officer may find that they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is over the legal limit, but they don’t. It was just artificially inflated. They may only have had one drink but they just burped at an opportune time.

That’s far from the only issue

If you think that something like this is uncommon, it’s important to note that there are a lot of other issues with breath tests, as well.

For example, they always need to be calibrated on schedule. Police officers sometimes fail to do this and then they don’t have reliable tests when they need them.

The test can also be thrown off by other substances. There have been cases when people have decided to use mouthwash before going out with friends and then failed a breath test because some of the mouthwash was still in their mouth.

What are your options?

The important thing to remember is that a failed breath test is no guarantee of a conviction. Be sure you know about all of your criminal defense options.