Can handling E85 motor fuel cause positive breath alcohol test results?

Ran Ran, Michael E. Mullins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Hand-held breath alcohol analyzers are widely used by police in traffic stops of drivers suspected of driving while intoxicated (DWI). E85 is a motor fuel consisting of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline or other hydrocarbons, and is available at nearly 2,600 stations in the USA. We sought to determine whether handling E85 fuel could produce measurable breath alcohol results using a hand-held analyzer and to see if this would be a plausible explanation for a positive breath alcohol test. Five healthy adult subjects dispensed or transferred 8 US gallons of E85 fuel in each of four scenarios. We measured breath alcoholconcentration in g/210 L of exhaled breath using the BACTrack S50 at 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 15 and 20 min after each fuel-handling scenario. Most of the subjects had no detectable breath alcohol after handling E85 motor fuel. Transient elevations (0.02-0.04 g/210 L) in breath alcohol measurement occurred up to 6 min after handling E85 in a minority of subjects. We conclude that it is unlikely that handling E85 motor fuel would result in erroneous prosecution for DWI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-432
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Analytical Toxicology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Chemical Health and Safety


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