Ever wondered if hand sanitiser can raise your blood alcohol level? Drive.com.au discovered it could cause some trouble at your next RBT stop.

Starting in 2008, NSW police came up with a streamlined way to test more people pulling into an RBT with what is called a "presumptive test". During this stage, the police officer will ask a motorist to count to 10 into a breathalyser, which is purely used to detect alcohol but not how much alcohol is in your bloodstream.

If alcohol is detected, then you will need to blow into a tube on a different breathalyser, which will detect how much alcohol is in your system. If you blow over 0.05, then you will be detained and either taken back to the police station or the 'booze bus' for further analysis.

However, because the presumptive test is taking a generalised sample of your breath, does this mean that things like chewing gum or even hand sanitiser will set the alarms off?

A NSW Police spokesperson told Drive, "On occasion, the presence of alcohol is detected as a result of secondary factors, such as alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Upon a positive indication for alcohol, officers will submit the driver to a direct breath test to provide an alcohol concentration reading in the driver's breath".

That means if you're using a particularly strong hand sanitiser, or have washed your hands with an alcohol-based soap before driving through an RBT, you may set the presumptive test off when you count to 10.

Lucas Kennedy, Head of Video at Drive, recently had this issue after using hand sanitiser before heading through an RBT.

"I pulled in, and they asked if I had been drinking. I said no, and then they told me to count to 10, so I did. That's when the police officer asked me if I had used hand sanitiser recently," he recalled.

"I had in fact used hand sanitiser about 15 minutes prior to going through, but I had also washed my hands after the sanitiser as well. It had set the tester off, so I had to do the blow-in-a-tube test, which came up as zero."

Obviously, Lucas was free to go after his 0.00 reading on the secondary test, but is there any possibility that hand sanitiser would've raised his blood alcohol level? Well, hand sanitiser does contain about 60–80 per cent ethyl alcohol (ethanol), depending on the brand, so it makes sense why this would be a concern.

A 2006 study, published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, titled 'Does the clinical use of ethanol-based hand sanitiser elevate blood alcohol levels?' found you have nothing to worry about.

After using several test subjects, having them apply ethanol-based hand sanitisers, and then testing their blood alcohol levels afterwards, the researchers concluded: "The results of this study demonstrate that use of ethanol-based hand sanitisers does not raise serum blood ethanol levels".

However, due to the ethanol base in it, there is a small chance that you could produce a blood alcohol reading higher than 0.00 if you were to ingest it or have it in your mouth, but this would cause you more issues than a positive RBT reading, like dying or getting very sick.

Source: https://www.drive.com.au/carad...