There was a weird -- and sad -- story in the TU today about a guy in Rensselaer County who failed a court-ordered sobriety test -- and his attorney blamed... Listerine.
The excuse apparently didn't go over well with the judge. And it seems laughable. But it got us wondering: is apparent-intoxification via mouthwash possible?
Well, first off, Listerine is about 27 percent alcohol. So, the idea isn't totally crazy.
The test the man failed involved one of those breath-analyzing machines (the term Breathalyzer is actually a brand name and only one version of the device). These machines measure blood alcohol levels by analyzing the alcohol that's evaporating out of the blood from the tiny sacs the lungs use to mix oxygen and blood.
Of course, that evaporated alcohol has to travel up from the lungs and out a person's mouth. And that's where things can apparently get a little mixed up. If there's alcohol in a the mouth -- from, say, mouthwash -- the machine can read that, too.
A study first reported in 1985 looked at the effects of Listerine usage on these tests. It found that people tested right after using Listerine scored almost lethal alcohol levels. And after five minutes, people were still registering illegal levels. The effect seemed to pretty much be gone after 10 minutes.
So, bottom line: it sounds like it's possible Listerine could influence a sobriety test -- but only if you swished it a few minutes before blowing into the machine. After that, the excuse kind of... stinks.
One sure way for the mouthwash to cause a failed test: drinking it (which, of course, you should not do). A few years back a woman in Michigan pleaded guilty to DUI after she told police she had drunk three glasses of Listerine.
photo: by Flickr user √oхέƒx™
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