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Litigation Blog.
The seasoned lawyers and litigators at The Rubinstein Law Firm are here to share their insights with you.

Could hand sanitizer skew a roadside breath test?

Far more people are using hand sanitizer than ever before. In fact, many people keep some in the car to use after being out and about. If a Michigan police officer pulls over one of these individuals on suspicion of drunk driving, a substance that is supposed to keep people safe could skew the roadside breath test.

A study was conducted in which a breath test was conducted using 10 volunteers and a handheld device similar to the ones used by law enforcement agencies across the country, including here in Michigan.

The volunteers were first tested before using hand sanitizer, and each one came back with a zero percent blood alcohol concentration. After using hand sanitizer, the results were alarming — the average test came back with a BAC of .15, which is far more than the .08 legal limit. To make matters worse, results were still high after several minutes and not even gloves could protect the volunteers from high readings.

What does this mean for the average person using hand sanitizer in the car? It means that individuals could end up under arrest on suspicion of drunk driving even without having a single drink. A police officer might not consider the hand sanitizer when administering the test.

Of course, an officer may justify an arrest based on other factors as well, but these conditions could create a false positive on the roadside breath test. The fact that several things can cause false positives in these particular breath tests helps explain why few judges will allow the results into evidence in court. Even so, it does not hurt to be prepared to discredit the results of the test as a driver prepares a defense against any charges filed.