Client Guide – Can my favorite snack trigger my IID?

Written by Reynolds Defense Firm

On March 9, 2020

An ignition interlock device (“IID”), or car breathalyzer, measures the amount of alcohol in the user’s breath and prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Modern IID’s are designed to be “alcohol-specific,” so only alcohol can set it off and cause you to fail your breath test. Sure, this seems simple enough, but there’s a catch. Sometimes you can have alcohol on your breath and not know it.

Oh yes, you read that correctly. But how, you wonder? Well, certain foods contain or produce small amounts of alcohol. And, although the amounts are not enough to impair your driving, the alcohol is right up near the mouthpiece, so its effect is exaggerated. To help prevent the inconvenience and frustration associated with a false IID reading, learn what specific foods that can trigger a fail.



Of course, you should be proud of yourself for choosing the salad over the fries – it’s good to eat healthy! However, it’s important to note that the vinegar in the salad dressing was probably made from wine, and traces of alcohol could still be around. These trace amounts aren’t enough to matter once you’ve consumed the salad. But, as a lot of us can attest, that “you’ve got something in your teeth” moment does happen. And, that lingering lettuce could cause a false positive.


Pizza and Pastries

Ah, bread – probably one of the most beloved foods. Unfortunately, the yeast used in making delicious baked goods can be a troublemaker. Yeast produces a tiny amount of alcohol due to the fermentation process that makes dough rise. Sure, once it’s made its way to your stomach it won’t matter. But, if you have remnants of pizza dough, a doughnut, cinnamon roll, or other bread-like food in your mouth, the alcohol could trip the sensor in an IID.


Vanilla Extract

Speaking of pastries, many people aren’t aware that a bottle of vanilla extract can contain at least 35% alcohol. A few crumbs of your popular secret-recipe cookies could have enough alcohol in them to cause a false reading.


Fruit & Fruit Drinks

Some fruit and fruit-based drinks can ferment and release just enough alcohol so that its presence in your mouth triggers the IID sensor.


Energy Drinks

It’s important to be mindful when consuming energy drinks. The label may say “alcohol-free,” but some of them contain a low concentration of ethanol.


How to Prevent Food Fails

So, some of your favorite snacks made the list – what do you do? It’s simple: If you have eaten an item that we included here, or used mouthwash or cough medicine, the rule of thumb that most interlock companies suggest is to wait 15 minutes. In a hurry? Thoroughly (key word) wash your mouth out with water before taking the test. Remember, the alcohol is just in your mouth, not your system. If your mouth is clean, you shouldn’t have any issues.


If you have any questions about an IID fail, or any of your court requirements, call your attorney. We will answer your questions timely and provide you the necessary resources to help address your concerns.


If you or someone you care about has been arrested for DUI (or DUII) you probably have many questions racing through your mind. You’ll find some of those answers here, but please remember that each person’s case is unique so information found on a website is never as beneficial as talking to a DUI attorney who specializes in Oregon’s DUI laws. Our first phone conversation is free, so give us a call at 503-223-3422 to talk through your situation. You can also chat with us live 24/7, or fill out our digital contact form for your free initial consultation.




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