Can vaping cause a false positive for alcohol tests?

Did you know that some vapes have alcohol components that might test false positives on alcohol tests? Don’t be surprised if you’re vaping with friends and you start to feel a bit tipsy. 

Just picture an incredible afternoon on Miami Beach. You’re just hanging out with your friends, vaping a little, having a good time, chilling…Later, you take your car and drive back home while listening to mood boosters, singing your heart out, and enjoying the road. In the middle of your road trip, a traffic officer stops. He starts interrogating you, asking for an alcohol test. You’re chill because you didn’t drink alcohol, but then the test came back positive.

How could this happen?

Maybe that vape you had contained alcohol, and you didn’t even know. Why? Because of the E-Liquids. Read this article and educate yourself about how you might have a false positive on an alcohol test due to your vaping. 

What are E-Liquids?

E-liquid is another name for the flavored nicotine solution used in e-cigarettes. They are commonly known as vape liquid or vape juice and are responsible for bringing all the flavor into your favorite vaping products. They’re extracted from 3 main ingredients: vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, and flavorings. 

What’s the relation between E-liquids and positive alcohol tests?

E-liquids frequently contain the unlisted ingredient of ethanol. Surprisingly (or not), it’s a form of alcohol, according to research led by Virginia Commonwealth University’s professor Michelle Peace, Ph.D.

Michelle’s lab studied 56 vape juice samples commonly known in the market, revealing that 96% contained ethanol, and a few of those 53 had more than 10% of the concentrate. 

When Dr. Peace discovered this, she asked herself the consequences of inhaling ethanol through vape juices, and the question came: can vaping cause a false positive for alcohol? 

“Ethanol is in e-liquids, and e-liquids are sticky,” Peace said. “It can hang on to the gums and inside the mouth. So, will residual ethanol remain in the mouth for a preliminary breath test or an evidentiary breath test?” (Source: Virginia Commonwealth University). 

Usually, this result is not enough to put you over the limit for driving. On the other hand,  Dr. Peace expects her further lab investigations won’t find that vaping ethanol can lead to high levels of impairment, yet, some online forums suggest people have confessed to feeling an intoxicating effect after vaping.

Something to consider is that these false-positive results appear if you have ingested products with alcohol components minutes before the alcohol test.

So, if you are vaping and feel a little happy, think that maybe the vape you just had contained ethanol. And be careful if you drive because if the question is “can vaping cause a false positive for alcohol?” your answer will be maybe…it depends on your organism.

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