Hand Sanitizer Could Land You in Jail

If an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is used during a breathalyzer test, the test may show a false positive result which could lead to a DUI charge. Hand sanitizers emit alcohol vapors that float through the air. If vapors enter the mouth, they can cause a rise in blood alcohol readings and cause breathalyzer test equipment to malfunction.

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Hand Sanitizers and DUI Charges

Hand sanitizers containing alcohol, as well as other substances containing alcohol, can affect breathalyzer test results. Police officers and law enforcement personnel are responsible for ensuring that subjects do not come into contact with alcohol in any form at least 15 to 20 minutes prior to the administration of a breath test.

The Journal of Forensic Sciences recently published studies showing the impact of alcohol-based hand sanitizers on breathalyzer test readings. Studies focused on hand-held breathalyzer devices like those used in DUI traffic stops, as well as breath alcohol equipment used in police stations. Researchers ran a test on 65 individuals in a controlled, ventilated environment. First, a standard hand-held device was used to collect blood alcohol levels, then the operators used a small amount of Purell hand sanitizer and administered a second test. Researchers ran 130 tests, and 13 of those tests showed positive readings for alcohol in breathalyzer tests, even though the subjects taking the tests had nothing to drink. An additional 41 tests caused the breathalyzer equipment to malfunction presenting significant errors in readings.

Purell hand sanitizers contain approximate 62 percent ethanol. This is equivalent to 120 proof alcohol that’s found in many strong whiskeys and rums. There are reports of some small children who became intoxicated after prolonged skin exposure from alcohol-based sanitizers.

  • In Germany, a two-year with skin injuries was wrapped in ethanol-soaked bandages overnight. Her blood alcohol level reached 0.8 and she lost consciousness.
  • In Italy, a one-month-old baby became extremely lethargic after he was bandaged with alcohol-soaked gauze pads for several days.
  • In Taiwan, a 45-year-old woman died after soaking in bathwater that contained 40 percent ethanol for 12 hours. She was trying to get rid of a skin infection.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Confidential informants may provide integral information to help build criminal investigations, but how reliable is that information when they are receiving payment for their services? To protect them, state law requires the identity of informants be kept confidential. For those facing criminal charges, however, this creates challenges in questioning the accuracy and validity of the information given at trial.
Stay calm and compose after getting accused of a crime but not charged in Minneapolis, MN. Do not discuss the facts of your case with anyone, including your relatives and family members. Hire a criminal defense attorney with a demonstrated record of winning cases like yours. Your attorney will discuss your rights, guide you on how to cooperate with law enforcement within the legal boundaries, and build a solid defense strategy to fight the charges you could face in the future.
Expungement and sealing of records in Minnesota affect how your criminal history appears to government agencies and the public. The main difference between the two legal actions is that expungement permanently removes past arrests, criminal charges, or convictions from private and public databases, while sealing hides the criminal record from the public. Courts, government entities, and law enforcement agencies can access sealed criminal records.