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Can Medications Affect a Datamaster Breath Test?

If you are arrested for DUI in South Carolina, under most circumstances, you will be asked by the police to submit to a breath test. Breath test machines (South Carolina uses the Datamaster DMT) can give false positive results or overstate your blood alcohol content. This false result can help bolster the case for the state and lead to a DUI conviction.

The most common causes of false positives are medical-related: medications, certain medical conditions, and some over-the-counter products. The following may lead to a distortion of the Datamaster DMT results:

Asthma inhalers

Many asthma inhalers work by spraying a concentrated mist containing alcohol into the lungs. However, a Datamaster may incorrectly assume that alcohol is actually in the blood. Additionally, asthma inhalers contain other chemicals that the machine may not recognize, which can further distort or affect breath test results.

Gastroesophageal acid reflux

Acid reflux is a condition where stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus or mouth. Even a small amount of alcohol in the stomach of a person who suffers acid reflux can have a significant result on a breath test.


Individuals with diabetes or on a very low-carb diet may produce an excess of ketones in their body. This leads to acetone in the breath, which can throw off the results of a breath test and result in a false positive.

Mouthwash or breath sprays

Many oral hygiene products contain alcohol, and if used recently can cause a false positive on a Datamaster. Ensure you check the labels on your mouthwash or breath spray, especially if you have an ignition interlock device.

Oral gels

Oral gels for toothaches and mouth pain, like Anbesol, contain a local anesthetic. The active ingredient in these gels can make a Datamaster show a false positive.

OTC cold and cough medicine

Some over-the-counter cold medicines, like NyQuil, contain alcohol and can severely distort test results if a driver has just consumed a dose. Police officers should know if a result comes back improbably high because of this, they should wait a few minutes and conduct the test again.

Randy Hough knows what’s at stake with a DUI arrest and fights the charges against you with the tenacity that comes with years of experience, and with handling more than 2,000 DUI cases as a defense attorney and as a prosecutor.

The Law Offices of A. Randolph Hough, P.A. assists clients throughout South Carolina, with offices in Columbia and Charleston. We are happy to speak to anyone about their DUI case, and our initial consultation is free. Please call 803-771-4119, or fill out our contact form.