Oh, No! I Just had a False Positive on My Ignition Interlock Device!

Posted by James Ferguson | Jun 01, 2017 | 0 Comments

If you are driving a vehicle with a court-ordered ignition interlock device in it, chances are either you or the person to whom the vehicle is registered has been charged with a DUI in Mississippi. Even if you were not the one who was convicted, you will need to breathe into the ignition interlock device in order to get the vehicle to start. If the breath sample is insufficient or the breath indicates a blood alcohol content (BAC) over a specific amount, the vehicle will not start.

When a False Positive Occurs on the Ignition Interlock Device

If you are the individual who has been convicted of the DUI charge, it might jar you for the ignition interlock device to show a false positive. Even if you are not worried about consequences, you may be wondering what would cause the device to register a false positive. In reality, these devices are crafted to be quite accurate, but there are some things that can cause the device to display an inaccurate reading.

What Can Cause a False Positive Reading?

Surprisingly enough, if you just rinsed your mouth out with mouthwash before heading out the door, your breath could cause a false positive on the ignition interlock device. Most brands of mouthwash contain a high amount of alcohol, which is what causes the “false positive.” You do not have to swallow the mouthwash for it to be read on the device, you just have to swish with it and it can register up to a .25 BAC. If you want to be able to have fresh breath and drive, too, simply rinse your mouth with water after you use mouthwash and wait at least fifteen minutes before you breathe into the ignition interlock device.

Eating spicy food is another way you could cause the device to register a false positive. When you eat spicy food, it reacts with the chemicals in your stomach, which causes methane gas to be produced. The methane gas could cause an ignition interlock device to register a false positive, but an antacid could quickly get rid of this problem.

Maintaining a Sober Record

This would be a rare instance, but the ignition interlock device could malfunction. Whether your breath has something like mouthwash or spicy food in it, or the device itself acts up, you should contact the service provider of the device and talk to them about the problem. A record is kept on positives that occur for each device, and you do not want your record to look like you have been trying to drive while you were drinking. If your device is malfunctioning, your service provider should be able to help you get on the road. If you just used mouthwash or ate spicy food, you should be able to prove that you were sober by breathing into the device as soon as possible after rising the mouthwash out or taking an antacid.

If you need a Mississippi DUI lawyer, call me, James Robert Ferguson, Attorney at Law, at (901) 318-3847.

About the Author

James Ferguson

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. During college, I studied at East Tennessee State University, where I received a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice, which I then followed up with a Master's in Criminology from the University of Memphis. Before beginning my legal career, I worked as a Project Coordinator at the University of Memphis, where I assisted in training law enforcement officers in the Memphis Model of Crisis Intervention Training. The purpose of the project was to provide officers with the tools to deal with citizens in a state of mental crisis. I then went on to study law at the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson. During law school, I clerked with Victor W. Carmody, Jr., the lawyer who wrote the book on DUI law in Mississippi. I am currently licensed to practice law in both Tennessee and Mississippi, and spend a majority of my time traveling the highways and biways of Mississippi defending those who have been charged with a DUI.


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