Journal Article

Potential Effect of Alcohol Content in Energy Drinks on Breath Alcohol Testing

Brian Lutmer, Carol Zurfluh and Christopher Long

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 33, issue 3, pages 167-169
Published in print April 2009 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online April 2009 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jat/33.3.167
Potential Effect of Alcohol Content in Energy Drinks on Breath Alcohol Testing

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Since the advent of energy drinks in the U.S. marketplace, some defendants have claimed that positive breath alcohol test results have occurred due to the ingestion of non-alcoholic energy drinks. A variety of energy drinks were tested by gas chromatography and some 88.9% (24 of 27) were found to contain low concentrations of ethanol (5–230 mg/dL). Drinks were then consumed (24.6–32 oz) by volunteers to determine the extent of reaction that could be achieved on a portable breath-testing instrument. Eleven of 27 (40.7%) beverages gave positive results on a portable breath-testing instrument (0.006–0.015 g/210 L) when samples were taken within 1 min of the end of drinking. All tests taken by portable breath test, DataMaster, and Intox EC/IR II at least 15 min after the end of drinking resulted in alcohol-free readings (0.000 g/210 L). Affording subjects a minimum 15-min observation period prior to breath-alcohol testing eliminates the possibility that a small false-positive alcohol reading will be obtained.

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Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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