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Vomit and Breath-Tests

Interviewer: Are there any other physical things that would affect the breath test, like dry mouth, or a person salivates like crazy, or any other systematical problems?

Leckerman: Someone having dry or cotton mouth will not affect the breath test reading. Yet, if a driver regurgitated or vomited prior to the breath testing, that could have potentially affected the results. If the driver vomited the contents of his stomach, any raw alcohol or alcohol absorbed in the food particles would be in the person’s mouth at the time of testing, if that driver didn’t have an opportunity to rinse his or her mouth out. I’ve had cases where a driver admitted to a police officer that he vomited prior to the investigation, or the officer saw the driver vomit at the scene of the investigation, or the officer saw the driver vomit back at the police station.

Vomiting doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is intoxicated. The person may just be sick from a virus. The person may have had food poisoning. Either way, the proper procedure that a breath test operator needs to follow is to make sure that the driver’s mouth is clear of potential contamination before breathing into the breath test device. If that’s not done, then the breath test reading may be artificially inflated and inadmissible as evidence.

New Jersey DWI Info Guide

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