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Do Energy Drinks Give False Positive Results on Ignition Interlock Devices?

Energy drinks are more popular than ever. It is pretty typical for a person to have an energy drink for a boost of caffeine early in the morning or at some point during the day. But what if you have an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car? Would consuming that energy drink cause the IID to give a false positive result? Are you in danger of getting in trouble for violating the terms of your DUI sentence just for having an energy drink?

If you are convicted of a Maryland DUI, you may need to participate in the state’s IID program in order to maintain your driving privileges. Whether or not you are eligible for a restricted driver’s license depends on the circumstances of your case and the terms of your DUI sentence. Some people choose to comply with the court-imposed driving restrictions rather than have their driving privileges suspended completely.

The IID is connected to your car’s ignition system. Prior to starting the car, you need to breath into the device. If the device detects that your blood alcohol level is above the limit set on the device, you won’t be able to start the car. The device will also require you to breath into it while you are driving.

When you provide a breath sample after having an energy drink and know that you haven’t consume any alcohol, getting a “FAIL” notice on the IID is quite shocking. You know you didn’t do anything wrong. Even though energy drinks are marketed as “alcohol-free,” some of them contain a low ethanol concentration that could set off the IID if they are consumed just prior to breathing into the device.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services performed a study regarding the effect energy drinks have on breath-alcohol testing. Twenty-seven different types of energy drinks were tested. Some of the drinks tested were Monster, Rockstar, Red Bull, NOS, and AMP Energy.

The ethanol concentration found in the energy drinks were low enough for them to still be classified as non-alcoholic beverages. But the ethanol concentration was high enough to set off false positive readings on breath-testing devices if the breath sample was provided within a minute after consuming certain energy drinks. If a person waited 15 minutes after having the energy drink before using the breath-testing device, the false positive result no longer appeared.

The IIDs are more susceptible to giving false positive results because they are usually set at a limit that is much lower than the .08 blood alcohol content level that indicates intoxication with a standard breathalyzer. If you get a false positive result after breathing into the device, don’t panic and shut off the vehicle. Keep the vehicle running and do a re-test. The IID will usually show a decline in the amount of alcohol that is being registered after a re-test.

The service provider of the IID checks the data recorded by the device. The data reveals how many times your blood alcohol level exceeded the limit set on the device, the distance traveled, how often the car was started and stopped, and how many times you tried to avoid giving a breath sample. The service provider submits that information to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.

If it is perceived that you are violating the terms of the IID program, it could lead to your sentence being increased. You may have to keep the IID installed for a longer period of time or you could end up having your driving privileges revoked. The judge could also add on other penalties as well.

If you ever get a false positive reading on an IID, you should notify your Maryland DUI lawyer right away and explain the circumstances. Give details regarding when the false positive reading was recorded as well as what you ate or drank that could have contaminated the breath sample. This information will allow your Maryland DUI lawyer to effectively fight any allegations that you committed an IID violation. Learn more about Maryland DUI defense here.

If you are required to have an IID installed in your car, you should speak with your attorney about which drinks and foods would trigger the device to give a false positive reading. The DUI lawyer knows that the IID doesn’t always give accurate results and understands the nuances of the device and how it works. Knowing what could set off false positive results will prevent you from potentially dealing with accusations that you violated the terms of your sentence.

Contact Our DUI Lawyers (301) 761-4842 or (410) 734-2675