<- Home <- Arhive <- Vol. 25, Issue 3, September 2017

Rom J Leg Med25(3)293-296(2017)
© Romanian Society of Legal Medicine

An unusual case of highly false-positive breath-alcohol test in a motor vehicle driver

Abstract: Breath-alcohol measuring is considered to be the most common and most widely used procedure during police driven road-side traffic stops of suspected drunk drivers. In spite of significant advances in technology and legal structure, significant challenges still remain to be solved. Positive breath alcohol concentrations despite abstinence while driving have been reported after exposure to a variety of alcohol-containing substances or endogenous breath volatile. The article describes an unusual case of highly false-positive breath alcohol test in a motor vehicle driver caused by environmental exposure of the subject to alcohol vapour. After police investigation, it was concluded that the driver was carrying refined spirit in the vehicle the day before the road-side control and some part of spirit was spilled in the car while loading the spirit-containing barrels. This case reaffirms, that in order to exclude possible false-positive breath-alcohol analysis due environmental alcohol inhalation, blank sample of air in the motor vehicle (or any confined space) should be obligatory prior to any breath-alcohol analysis. In addition, current literature on the possibilities of false-positive results is reviewed.
Keywords: breath-alcohol analysis, alcohol vapours, false-positive results, environment, contamination.

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