Question: My wife got a DUI charge in Marietta and she told me she didn't have anything to drink. She said she had nothing at all. She told me she drank no wine, beer or liquor. She took the blow test and she scored of .121. I know that's over the limit, but she keeps saying she didn't have anything to drink.
She said the only thing that might have caused her to score high on the breath test was that she used hand sanitizer on her hands a lot that day. She hates germs and I think you'd call her a germophobe. She uses it all the time in the house and when we go out she uses it before dinner, after dinner and when we get home. After we go to a friend's house, she'll put a lot on her hands secretly in the bathroom. You get the point; she really is scared of germs.
She used to be a drinker, but after her first DUI, which was in Atlanta, she gave it up. I never saw her drink again. It's been almost 3 years since she got that drunk driving charge. She went to AA meetings and she even considered going to a rehab, but we didn't think she needed to go.
I'm looking for some answers and I'd really like to know if hand sanitizers like Purell can cause a high reading on the blow test for DUI?
S.L. in Marietta, GA
Answer: We have never heard of hand sanitizer causing a DUI. Using hand sanitizer as it's meant to be used, on your hands, should not cause intoxication.
However, hand sanitizer can contain different types of alcohol. Hand sanitizer can contain isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) or ethyl alcohol (ethanol or grain alcohol). Applying hand sanitizer made with either type of alcohol, even if applied liberally throughout a day, should not cause intoxication, and certainly not a .121 breath test on the Intoxilyzer machine.
There are some people, however, who actually dink hand sanitizer. Drinking hand sanitizer is much more potent than beer, wine or liquor. Young people looking for a cheap buzz and prisoners in jail have been known to drink it. Of course, drinking hand sanitizer is very dangerous and can cause everything from alcohol poisoning to organ failure.
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