I have a question that someone may or may not be able to answer. The issue
is somewhat woodworking related.
Does anyone know if daily exposure to commercial finishes and solvents can
cause a false positive on a blood alcohol content test? An acquaintance who
works in a commercial finishing department in a cabinet shop claims that he
was pulled over after work for having an expired registration and was
subsequently asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. Feeling that there was
nothing to worry about, submitted and was arrested fro a DUI. Sounds rather
strange to me.
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know
I was told by a cop that if you are sparaying sovents and then take a
breathalizer it would give a positive reading and yes they can hit you with
How long after the exposure to solvents i do not know,
On Thu, 20 May 2004 16:46:04 -0700, "George M. Kazaka"
Remember DUI dosen't always mean alcohol or even a breathalyzer.
A driver can be arrested for being under the influence of almost
anything in CT, including prescription drugs, solvents, cleaning
fluids, paint, etc...
All it takes is an officer to observe impaired operation, and failing
a roadside test..
My regular microbrew pub hangout on any given night is typically
populated by 75% law enforcement professionals.
Nothing like a traffic law debate with a friendly state cop, after 5
or 6 microbrews. <G> "What if" discussions can be even funnier!
I don't know what the effects are as regards blood alcohol tests, but I can
certainly give you personal anecdotal evidence that both shellac and
cellulose lacquer finishes will affect you significantly, if you breathe
them long enough. They give you a spaced-out feeling and, in the case of
cellulose, a vicious hangover without the pleasure of having had a really
good bash down the bar with the lads.
I think your friend needs to pursue this further.
Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com ).
I doubt the officer gives everyone he stops for an expired registration a
breathalyzer test. Something must have given him cause to request the test.
Buffalo, NY - USA
(Remove "SPAM" from email address to reply)
Depends a lot where you are. In my locality, if they bothered to stop
you, they're going to breathalyse you too. In North Wales, you can
(and will) be breathalysed simply for driving after midnight.
Breathalysers are sensitive to almost everything, so getting the red
light is no surprise at all. However a blood test done with HPLC or a
similar analytical technique can identify the particular solvent or
alcohol concerned (urine tests are less specific). This should be
easily demonstrable in court, if it even gets that far.
There's also the possibility that being affected and impaired by
solvents (however accidental) is just as serious an offence as
deliberately drinking. In some cases (shellac) then you may even have
been absorbing ethanol - I've been known to use vodka in my shellac
mixes after all.
Sounds like your friend might seriously think about using a respirator,
because daily exposure can cause more serious damage than a DUI. If it's in
his blood, then it's affecting his liver and nervous tissue.
"Al Reid" snipped-for-privacy@reidHyphenhome.com inquired:
"Does anyone know if daily exposure to commercial finishes and solvents can
In most of the "enlightened jurisdictions" (UK, where they convict speeders on
the basis of hidden cameras, not included for these purposes!), continuous
proximity to vapors from pait, lacquer, etc. have long constitued a very
effective defense to DUI charges. That being said, that argument loses ALL
credibility when the police present the results of a Blood Alcohol Test
containing alcoholic content. If it's over the accepted .08 limit, your
friendly painter had better stow the argument. The breath test (breathalayzer)
measures the amout of ALCOHOL in the bloodstream by translating the amount
found in the alveolar air in the lungs. The amount of alcohol in the
bloodstream in no way is affected by proximity to fumes. The only way blood
alcohol content could be affected is if the subject drank the stuff and it was
The reason proximity is occassionally a good defense is that frequently
proximity to such fumes can produce a physical reaction much like the
over-consumption of alcohol, such as, blood shot eyes, unsteadiness, mild
Hope this helps; sorry if I sound like the professor in the "Paper Chase".
Jay Sweeney in NH
Tom Watson responded:
"OK but check out the following:
Right, Tom, as they say "For every rule, there's an exception."! One of the
reasons lawyers make a living.
Did some time on a DOA analyzer. Your answer is "it depends" - largely on
the testing methodology used. "Breathalyzers" might very well test positive
for non-ethanol analogs; inhalation is a reasonable way to acquire dosage;
solvents include ethanol and methanol.
Step 1 is to request urinalysis. [ Betting on the test used being more
specific (eg. ELISA)]
Step 2 is to save some of that urine to be analyzed by chromatgraphic means.
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