Covid-19, Alcohol Based Hand Sanitisers and Drink Driving Cases

Alcohol based hand sanitisers can affect drink driving breath and blood tests.

We have recently been dealing with an enquiry where the level of alcohol knowingly consumed could not have generated the reading that was generated during a breathalyser test.

Clearly there are three possible explanations, the person enquiring may have consumed more alcohol than they are telling us, there may have been a fault with the breathalyser machine, or alternatively the machine may have detected alcohol from elsewhere.

In this particular enquiry the police officer conducting the breathalyser test was continuously (and understandably) using a liquid hand sanitizer, clearly to protect himself from the Corona virus. He was also offering it to the client to use as well.

Both the Officer and the potential client used copious amounts of hand sanitiser during the initial arrest and during the procedure in the breathalyser room.

We are worried that this may have distorted the reading. The hand sanitiser (which from what we understand needs to be 60% or more alcohol to be effective against the Coronavirus) could easily have found its way on to the tube that the client blew into in order to give the sample.

Alternatively the machine may have detected fumes from the hand sanitiser during the procedure when the client was holding and blowing into the tube.

We have received advice from an expert in both the breathalyser machines and the taking of blood samples and they have suggested that there is a distinct possibility that the samples could be contaminated by alcohol based hand sanitiser. Therefore the readings could be unreliable.

We know that the police take the integrity of readings very seriously. There was a time when the police used to use alcohol based disinfectant swabs before taking a blood sample, when the breathalyser machine was unavailable or the individual concerned was unable to give a breath sample due to medical reasons.

This led to the police stopping using alcohol based swabs on mass for fear of distorting the blood reading. We are concerned that hand sanitisers containing 60 percent or more alcohol may be distorting the reading from the breathalyser machine.

We are also concerned there anybody who has given a blood sample instead of breath sample, may also have ended up with an unreliable reading suggesting the alcohol in their blood is higher than the alcohol actually consumed.

The force medical practitioner who takes the blood sample may have used alcohol based hand sanitisers prior to taking the sample and therefore contaminated the needle when attaching it to the syringe.

If you think that your sample may have been affected them please contact us urgently. Anything that renders the sample unreliable can amount to a defence.

Clearly this is a matter of real concern at a time when people need to be able to drive more than ever to keep both themselves and their families in a safe environment whilst travelling for essential reasons.

We will update this article as soon as we know more. Watch this space.

If you have been breathalysed and you are struggling to understand why your reading was over the legal limit then please contact us urgently and we will do a free advice call with no obligation to use our services.