Products and Foods That May Trigger a False Positive Breath Test

False positives are common if you do not know what food, hygiene, and medical products to avoid. A false positive can result in jail time if you are testing while on probation or bond.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney Team

Making Life Changes to Avoid Incorrect Test Results

A person might have to regularly provide breath test samples to comply with bond or probation requirements. Also, a restricted driver’s license can require in-car breath samples in an alcohol interlock device. Modern breath test devices are typically hand-held and connect remotely to the internet. Despite advertisements and representations that these devices can distinguish between false and legitimate positive alcohol samples, they are notorious for inaccurate test results. To avoid potential issues with a judge or the Michigan Department of State, it helps if you can avoid products known to cause false-positive breath test results.

Foods That Trigger False Positives

  • Vanilla
  • Non-alcohol beer and wine
  • Foods cooked with alcohol
  • Sugary pastries such as cinnamon rolls and honeybuns
  • Protein bars
  • Ripe or fermented fruits
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Hot sauce
  • Energy drinks

Hygiene Products Not to Use

  • Mouthwashes
  • Breath mints and sugarless gums
  • Breath freshener spray
  • After-shaves or cosmetics that are near the mouth
  • Hand sanitizer

Medications to Avoid if Possible

Most prescription and over-the-counter medications do not contain alcohol. In most cases, the defendant must switch medicines that contain alcohol to non-alcohol medications. Make sure you ask your doctor about non-alcohol alternatives. If there is no alternative to a drug that contains alcohol, speak to your criminal defense lawyer immediately about the situation so that they can bring the issue before your judge before a violation of bond or probation.

  • Cough syrup and cold/flu medication
  • Canker sore and toothache gels and liquids
  • Sleep aids
  • Vitamins
  • Asthma inhalers

Health Conditions Can Cause a False Positive

Certain health conditions could also set off a breath test. If you test positive and haven’t consumed any product that contains alcohol, the result could be due to a known or unknown health condition. If this happens, it is vital that you see a doctor right away to determine any possible cause for the inaccurate reading. Examples of health conditions that can cause an issue with a breath testing device include:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Heartburn
  • Fever
  • Liver disease
  • Gum disease
  • Acid reflux

“What should I do if I have a false positive test?”

If you experience a false-positive test result, contact your lawyer immediately. You must get an independent alcohol test as soon as possible to demonstrate that you did not consume an alcoholic beverage. You should find out in advance if you are required to submit to a specific alcohol test in the event of a false positive. For example, if you are required to get an ethyl glucuronide (EtG) test and do a PBT test instead, a judge or DAAD hearing officer might not accept that negative result as evidence. Always follow the rules as outlined in any court or administrative order. If no rule says otherwise, it is usually best to get an EtG test. Most drug and alcohol testing facilities offer EtG tests. An EtG test can determine if you’ve consumed alcohol within 48 to 72 hours of the test. Courts tend to accept the results of legitimate testing facilities. If your lawyer tells you to do something different than this blog, follow your lawyer’s advice. If you do not trust your lawyer’s advice, it is time to get a new lawyer.

Frequently Asked Questions About False Positive Breath Tests


What can cause a false positive breath test?

Many things can cause a false positive breath test. Examples include cough syrup, cold/flu medications, canker sore and toothache gels and liquids, sleep aids, vitamins, and asthma inhalers.

Can a breath test be wrong?

A breath test result can be inaccurate; however, it is more likely that some substance other than an alcoholic beverage is causing a false positive.

What foods can cause a false positive breathalyzer test?

Some foods can cause false-positive breath test results. Some examples include:

  • Protein bars
  • Ripe or fermented fruits
  • Cinnamon rolls
  • Honeybuns
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Bread (white or sourdough)
  • Hot sauce
  • Dishes made with alcoholic beverages
  • Sugar-free gums
  • Energy drinks
  • Fermented soda
  • “non-alcoholic” beer or wine

Can you fail a breathalyzer without drinking?

It is possible to fail a breath test if you have not consumed an alcoholic beverage. A false-positive result might be erroneous or a result of a software glitch. Also, many non-alcoholic beverages, such as fermented soda, energy drinks, and coffee with vanilla, can cause a positive test result.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

Michigan Criminal Defense and License Restoration Attorneys

The lawyers with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience successfully representing clients on felony and misdemeanor charges and driver’s license restoration cases. Most courts require defendants on bond or probation to drug or alcohol test regularly or sporadically. A false positive test result can result in revoked bond, probation violation, loss of a plea bargain, or an unnecessarily harsh sentence. If you have a restricted driver’s license and submit a positive breath test, you will probably lose your driving privileges unless you prove you did not consume alcohol. Please give us a call if you face charges or are seeking restoration of your driving privileges. If you trust us with your representation, we will do everything possible to ensure you are not found responsible for a false positive breath test and get you the best possible outcome in your case.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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