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DUI: It was the mouthwash

Question: There's no way I should be facing a DUI charge. I was in Atlanta for a business dinner and I barely had anything to drink, maybe a beer or two. We were at a hotel in Buckhead. We were at the bar for a few hours but I really just ate peanuts.

At around 1:00 a.m. I went to my car and drove home. I got pulled over by an Atlanta police officer down the block on Piedmont Road. But when I saw the cop behind me a friend gave me some mouthwash. I think it was the brand Tom's of Maine. I used a lot of the mouthwash because I didn't think the cop would want to smell any alcohol, even from someone who didn't drink much.

The police officer said he pulled me over because I didn't maintain my lane; he said I swerved. Anyway, I cooperated with everything he wanted. He looked at my eyes, made me walk a line and made me raise my leg and count.

I took the breath test that he gave me. I couldn't believe what the result was! It came back as .187. That's really high. It must be because of the mouthwash.

Will the Atlanta solicitor understand that it was the alcohol in the mouthwash? Will a judge and jury understand?

V.M. in Atlanta

Answer: Many brands of mouthwash do contain alcohol. And that alcohol can cause a high reading on a breathalyzer test, especially when mouthwash is used just before a test is administered.

However, we looked at the Tom's of Maine website and it appears that their mouthwash does not actually contain any alcohol. So your high reading on the breathalyzer test cannot be attributable to the brand of mouthwash that you say you used.

Some mouthwashes contain high amounts of alcohol and others, like the one you used, contain no alcohol.

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