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Drunk driving charges: Escaping conviction with a cough candy

In some instances, cough lozenges are the best friends of drivers who have consumed alcohol. In fact, cough drops have had a hand in helping some drivers nailed with drunk driving charges. Some popular cough candies contain sugar alcohols like menthol, sorbitol, xylitol or maltitol. These can increase the alcohol content in the mouth, leading to a higher number when Alberta drivers are administered a Breathalyzer test.

Police have caught on to the tactic and ask those who are chewing on cough drops at the time of the traffic stop to get rid of the lozenge. They wait about 15 minutes afterwards to administer the Breathalyzer test. It is said that any residual alcohol in the mouth evaporates during that time.

Other things that can affect a test result are fruit juices, white bread and sugary foods. They must be consumed close in time to the test being administered. Hand sanitizers can also affect a result. They are sometimes used to clean the mouthpiece of a Breathalyzer device. However, if a police officer believes there is enough evidence that a driver has been drinking, he or she could opt to forgo the roadside test and use the Intoxilyzer, which is said to be more reliable.

Alberta residents facing drunk driving charges have the right to consult a lawyer to find out what their options are when fighting the charge. The Crown has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was, in fact, impaired. That involves using proper procedures to collect evidence at the time charges were laid. An Alberta lawyer who is experienced in crimes and misdemeanors law can provide guidance and will focus on achieving the best possible outcome at trial for the client.

Source: findlaw.ca, "Can a, ahem, cough drop lead to a positive breathalyzer test?", Jon Cook, Accessed on Oct. 6, 2017

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