Written by attorney James Kevan Minick

Foods or Drinks That May Contain Traces of Alcohol

After receiving a DWI, one of the options for individuals to retain their driver’s license is to have an ignition interlock system alcohol testing device installed that requires the driver of the car to blow into it in order for the vehicle to start. This device also requires periodic retesting in order for the vehicle to remain running. Some devices will not necessarily shut down the vehicle if an individual fails to retest, but the device will record a failing test and the results will be forwarded to the proper monitoring authorities.

In order to avoid any difficulties or problems with the testing device, it is important to provide accurate test results and be mindful of eating any foods or drinking any liquids that may have any trace amounts of alcohol that would render a failing test. In order to do this, an individual should: (1) know any and all ingredients of foods, drinks, or medicines they may take; (2) not eat or drink anything five minutes before testing; (3) clean out their mouth by rinsing with water before testing; (4) and make sure their vehicle is properly ventilated in order to prevent any fumes from alcohol that may prevent a proper test.

Additionally, in North Carolina, the devices used for testing have the alcohol detection rates set lower then any other jurisdiction in the country. Because of this, it is important to follow the steps listed above and avoid any of the following items which may contain trace amounts of alcohol:

  • Mouthwash
  • Honey buns
  • Hot sauces
  • Sugarless gums (alcohol is a sweetener)
  • Inhalers
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Anti-bacterial soap
  • Household cleaning products (bleach, dish washing soap, glue, laundry detergent, air fresheners)
  • Windshield wiper fluid
  • Energy drinks
  • Protein Bars
  • Vitamins
  • “Alcohol free" beer or wine
  • Foods cooked with or contained with alcohol
  • Hygiene products (deodorant sprays, after shave, perfume, body sprays, toothpaste, cosmetics, skin applicants, mouthwash, insect repellent)
  • Medicines (suppressants, decongestants, antihistamines, sleeping aids, etc.)
  • Ripe fruit
  • Fermented soda drinks
  • Chewing tobacco/dip (fruit flavors)
  • Over the counter/prescription drugs (consult pharmacist)

Although this is a large list, this is by no means a comprehensive list of all the different foods, drinks, or medicines that may contain traces of alcohol. If you are in doubt about whether an item may contain trace amounts of alcohol that could cause you to fail a test, do not eat, drink, or ingest that item.

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