Toothpaste Defense in Breathalyzer Violation Case

All of the major Boston media outlets are reporting on Senator Anthony Galluccio’s alleged home breathalyzer violation. Gallucio was placed on home confinement and ordered to undergo mandatory random alcohol monitoring as a result of pleading guilty to leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident. Alcohol was apparently suspected to be involved in the incident.

He was required to take a home “breathalyzer” test to prove that he has been complying with the terms of his probation, which require that he abstain from alcohol. Apparently, like the ignition interlock devices used in Massachusetts, these in-home “breathalyzers” cannot differentiate between the alcohol in liquor and other non-intoxicating alcohols. I suspect that, like the ignition interlock devices, these so-called “breathalyzers” do not use infrared spectrometry, which is more reliable than fuel cell technology. 

Gallucio claimed that he used Colgate Total Whitening and Sensodyne Toothpaste, which both contain the chemical sorbitol, a sugar alcohol.  I have successfully defended individuals who have experienced false ignition interlock readings as a result of this chemical. In one false positive case, the ignition interlock user consumed a “protein bar” containing sorbitol shortly before driving. In another similar case, the ignition interlock-required driver was chewing sugarless gum shortly before taking a required random rolling re-test. In both of these Massachusetts ignition interlock violation cases, the IID misinterpreted sorbitol for ethyl alcohol, the type of alcohol that is in intoxicating liquor.

Of course, in Gallucio’s case it is unknown whether or not the toothpase defense is legitimate or conjured up to avoid responsibility. Ignition Interlock users often face this same dilemma.