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Problem False Positives with Your Ignition Interlock or Portable Alcohol Monitor

My Ignition Interlock Device or Portable Alcohol Monitoring Device Shows a failure, but I have not consumed any Alcohol – What to Do?

Ignition Interlock Devices (IID) and Portable Alcohol Monitors (PAM) are common with criminal charges that involve alcohol.  They are routinely ordered as part of either bond conditions to get out of jail or conditions required by community supervision probation or deferred adjudication.  They are intended to show compliance with conditions that require abstaining from alcohol consumption, and relieve the court from concerns about the person committing any new offenses or being a danger to society.

HOW THE DEVICE HISTORY CAN BE USED AGAINST YOU!

The devices create a record of activity, whether the test results in a pass, failure, or skip.  It is not uncommon for the device history to be downloaded and used against a person as evidence of failing to abide by a condition of bond or probation.  Every judge has heard it a thousand times, and as a result they just don't believe that it was a false positive; they assume you were drinking.  Many of the judges view a skipped test as the same as a failure, as they want the devices used to monitor the person if ordered as a condition.  Such violations are also considered when prosecutors make punishment recommendations.   Even low levels of alcohol detected on such devices can result in additional jail time, extending probation time, or result in additional treatment and counseling being ordered.

THE PROBLEM OF FALSE POSITIVES ON YOUR IID OR PAM WHEN YOU HAVE NOT BEEN DRINKING?

Both IID's and PAM's usually work as intended, however they have their flaws.  The units are designed to detect alcohol, however, the technology used results in devices that are not as accurate and reliable as the technology used in a breathalyzer, such as the Intoxilzyer.  While both the IID and the PAM are cheaper than a breathalyzer, they are accepted for use in detecting the presence of alcohol.  However, there are many different types of alcohols other than the “ethanol alcohol” in an alcoholic beverage. 

These devices will also detect isopropanol, sorbitol, menthol, methanol and other alcohols, without any ability to distinguish them from an alcoholic beverage.  As a result, certain foods or products result in false positive results, meaning that the device detects alcohol which everyone will assume means the client is drinking alcohol when they did not drink any alcohol.  With that in mind, clients are advised to not use any products that could cause a false positive result when tested.  Mouthwash, breath fresheners, tooth pain relievers, antiseptics, preservatives, and other common products contain alcohols that will register with an IID and PAM.  Also certain foods, diets, or medical conditions can cause issues too. 

Spicy foods mix with stomach acid and create gas.  Gas at high levels can also lead to a false positive.  Further, diabetics and those on certain high protein diets that raise acetone levels may experience a false positive too.  As a result, the IID or PAM mistakes the residue of various products and the results of certain foods or diets as evidence of intoxication. 

WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN MY INTERLOCK OR PORTABLE ALCOHOL MONITOR SHOWS A POSITIVE RESULT WHEN I HAVE NOT CONSUMED ANY ALCOHOL?

If you believe you have a false positive test from a contaminant, you need to act to show that you have not been drinking.  Mouth alcohol from mouthwash or breath fresheners will dissolve faster than alcohol in your bloodstream from drinking.  As a result, you need to continue to provide samples until a clean sample is registered to show the dissipation rate.  When the presence of alcohol disappears faster than scientific accepted rates of alcohol metabolization, we argue that it was not alcohol in your bloodstream from drinking.  If you have a false positive, it is important to both clear the air in the area or inside your vehicle and rinse your mouth with water before providing another sample. 

WHAT ELSE CAN I DO TO PROVE I WAS NOT DRINKING AND THE INTERLOCK OR PAM DEVICE GAVE A FALSE POSITIVE?  FIND A LAB TESTING FOR EtG!

There are various laboratories around town that do private drug testing.  For a fee, you provide a urine sample to be tested against various drugs and controlled substances.  Labs now can look at alcohol biomarkers, and administer a urine test to detect if anyone has consumed alcohol within the last 3-4 days.  These tests are called EtG Tests based upon the named biomarker, Ethyl Glucuronide.  Alcohol Biomarkers indicate the consumption of alcohol, as these compounds are produced when alcohol is metabolized by the body.  Even though alcohol is metabolized by the body and dissipates after a few hours, EtG will remain in the system for up to 80 Hours.  The test can provide useful results as evidence of abstaining from alcohol for those who are legally prohibited from consuming alcohol.  Lab results showing a negative result for alcohol consumption that correlates with the same time period as the false positive from an IID or PAM are the ultimate evidence to provide to the court.    

Be aware of the dangers of the false positives when forced to use an Interlock or Portable Alcohol Monitor, and what to do when facing the failed test.  Better yet, contact Jason English today at 512-454-7548 to get the representation you need with your case or on your bond or probation revocation. 

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