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Could a cough drop result in a false drunk driving charge?

The extra-long Victoria Day weekend is one that sees a lot of drunk drivers clogging our roads. For that reason, police are out in full force throughout May Long Weekend, trying to monitor the road for drunk drivers and bring offenders to justice. However, police are not always accurate with regard to the drivers they choose to arrest.

Every day throughout Canada, police officers arrest the wrong people -- inadvertently accusing innocent drivers of being drunk behind the wheel. This, however, is perfectly understandable. Police officers are human after all, they make mistakes and courts are well aware of the fact. This is also why every driver will have the opportunity to defend him- or herself against drunk driving charges in court.

Little do many drivers know, but a false drunk driving arrest, and even a false breathalyzer test results, can be triggered by a cough drop, xylitol gum, sorbitol or menthol candies. These food items contain "sugar alcohols," which can trigger a false positive on a breathalyzer machine, or cause a police officer to smell what seems like alcohol on one's breath.

Sometimes, police accuse drivers of trying to "trick" a breathalyzer test, just because they have a cough drop or piece of chewing gum in their mouths. Or, police will try to help the driver out and give a moment to take the cough drop or gum out of his or her mouth and wait 15 minutes before administering the breathalyzer exam.

Ultimately, it is important that officers follow appropriate procedure when making an intoxicated driving arrest. If they fail to follow legal procedure, for example, it could invalidate the charges -- even the driver was guilty of the offence.

When a driver is charged with drunk driving in Alberta, it is important that he or she review the charges and all the facts and evidence collected in the case. By reviewing the information, the driver can formulate the most appropriate criminal defence strategies to employ in the case.

Source: FindLaw, "Can a, ahem, cough drop lead to a positive breathalyzer test?," Jon Cook, accessed May 06, 2016

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