FREE Case Review (866) 588-0600

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System? – Breathalyzer Test Risks

In general, alcohol can be detected for 12 to 24 hours on your breath, depending on the type of test conducted.
Awards & recognition
C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

Schmidt & Clark, LLP is not currently accepting these types of cases and has posted this content for information purposes only. We encourage you to seek a qualified attorney, if you feel you might have a case.


How Does a Breathalyzer Work?

Most breathalyzers use one of the following technologies to detect Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) in a person's blood:

  • Semiconductor oxide-based testers - Utilize an ethanol-specific sensor to measure the subject's BAC. Semiconductor sensor technology involves a tin-oxide material for personal, home, and low-volume professional testing.
  • Fuel cell testers - Measure alcohol content by creating a chemical reaction that oxidizes the alcohol in the breath sample and produces an electrical current. The more alcohol that is oxidized, the greater the current.
  • Infrared spectrometry - Used in large, table-top breathalyzers typically found in police stations. These devices work by identifying molecules based on the way they absorb infrared light. The level of ethanol in a sample is singled out and measured, and a subject's alcohol level can then be determined.

Related Article: What is Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)?

How Do You Sober Up to Pass a Breathalyzer?

Unfortunately, there's no shortcut to sober up once alcohol is in the bloodstream. The only way to sober up is to wait for the alcohol to metabolize. However, the body can only process a limited amount of alcohol per hour. Meaning if someone takes four shots of liquor in a row, those drinks enter their bloodstream one at a time.

What Can Throw Off a Breathalyzer?

The following medications and substances have been found to cause false positives for BAC in breath testing:

  • Asthma medications
  • Nyquil and OTC medications with alcohol
  • Anbesol in Oral Gels
  • Mouthwash and Breath Spray
  • Fumes
  • Gastroesophageal Acid Reflux
  • Ketones

Will I Pass a Breathalyzer After 10 Hours?

Breathalyzers can generally test positive for alcohol up to 12 hours after a person consumes one alcoholic beverage. If your BAC is 0.08, it will take about 5 hours to metabolize the alcohol completely before you are sober again.

Related Article: BAC After One Beer?

Does Eating Help Lower BAC?

Eating food, either before or while drinking, slows the absorption rate of alcohol. Slower rates mean that less alcohol enters a person's bloodstream (compared to someone who does not eat while drinking). This reduction of alcohol in the blood translates into reduced levels of blood alcohol concentration.

Read Also:

See the other personal injury and accident lawsuits and cases we've covered.

Get a Free Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers

Schmidt & Clark, LLP law firm has an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new legal challenges in all 50 states.

If you or a loved one was injured, you should contact our law firm immediately for a free case evaluation. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.