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Can you get a DWI after drinking non-alcoholic beer or wine?

As a responsible student in a Wisconsin college and a conscientious driver, you do your very best to make good choices concerning drinking and driving. After all, you're part way through the academic year and you really don't want to mess things up when you're so close to earning your degree and achieving your goals. On many occasions, you have likely even offered to be a designated driver rather than risk facing DWI charges or worse, getting in an accident that causes someone injury.

What about non-alcoholic beverages? Can you drink those and legally operate a motor vehicle? The answer is that it depends. It's always best to thoroughly research such products ahead of time, as well as other non-alcohol items you might consume or ingest that can adversely affect a Breathalyzer test. Understand your rights and know where to turn in a moment's notice if you need support.

Are non-alcoholic beers and wines really non-alcoholic?

You've likely either heard of or imbibed non-alcoholic beverages, such as O'Douls or Sharps. It's crucial to remember that manufacturers market these products as non-alcoholic beverages because they meet the legal definition as such. If you plan to drink such drinks then drive a car, you may want to learn more about them. The list that follows provides useful information on the topic and also facts about other non-alcohol products that can skew breath test results:

  • Non-alcoholic beverages do contain alcohol! The thing is the amount of alcohol in such products is so minimal that those selling the products may legally advertise them as non-alcoholic beverages. However, it is logical to assume that if you drink such beverages then take a breath test on a device that is high tech and sensitive, it may detect alcohol on your breath.
  • Can you imagine getting a DWI because of something you ate not drank? It's possible because many herbal or flavor extracts contain ethyl alcohol. Such products may register positive for alcohol or its by-products.
  • When you go on dates, you probably like to make sure you have fresh breath by using breath strips or mouthwash. These items often register false positives on Breathalyzer tests.
  • If a police officer pulls you over shortly after you have taken cold medication, you might be in for trouble, especially if the reason for the stop is suspected drunk driving. Many cold and flu medicines, as well as cough syrups contain ethanol, which can register as alcohol on your breath.

Another surprising fact has to do with the person administering your breath test. If he or she recently used a hand sanitizer, the device may detect the ethanol in the product but register your test results as though you had alcohol on your breath! If you frequently use hand sanitizers or other antiseptic gels or foams, you may register positive for alcohol on a urine test.

The bottom line is you do not necessarily have to consume copious amounts of alcohol in order to wind up facing DWI charges. Even if the charges are eventually dismissed or you present a successful defense, the process of adjudication can greatly throw your college career off course. You'll have court appointments, fees and other meetings that may make it nearly impossible to keep up with your class schedule. Many Wisconsin students turn to experienced criminal defense attorneys to help them rectify such situations.

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