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Mouth alcohol, if present in high enough concentrations, can falsely bias the accurate measurement of end-expiratory breath alcohol. Mouth alcohol will be eliminated over time, however, and can be modeled with a single term decaying exponential of the form: B0e−kt + C. It is important, however, to determine the model and its parameters when alcohol is already present within the biologic system. Using three individuals as their own controls, mouth alcohol was administered both before and after alcohol consumption followed by breath alcohol analysis performed at approximately 0.5 min intervals. The results showed that both model parameters (B0 and k) are effected and that the asymptotic value (C) is reached much sooner when alcohol already exists in the end-expiratory breath. Considering only three individuals were involved, the forensic-science importance appears to be that, as the end-expiratory breath alcohol concentration increases, the time necessary for the mouth alcohol to decrease to unbiased levels is decreased. Fifteen min of observation time prior to breath alcohol analysis appears to be more than adequate at forensically relevant concentrations.
Washington State Patrol, Breath Test Section, Seattle, WA
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