Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I really love evidence

Today the news is full of the latest on hapless Massachusetts State Senator Anthony Galluccio (D-Cambridge). For those who do not follow Massachusetts news, the Galluccio was sentenced to home confinement after pleading guilty to leaving the scene of a crash and DUI. (In this instance, shit-faced would apparently be more accurate.) Part of his sentence included random home breathalyzer tests. He flunked. He blames the sorbitol in his toothpaste.

The claim has caused considerable speculation and hilarity locally. Now I trash electronic news media regularly here, but all praise to WCVB-TV, which sent out reporter Pam Cross to actually try setting off the breathalyzer with Galluccio's favourite brands of toothpaste.

Answer: nuh-uh. There are a number of reasons it doesn't work, but it doesn't. Mouthwash does, if you are dense enough to use it and immediately blow into the machine or worse, to swallow the stuff. That works because many popular mouthwash brands have 20 percent or more ethanol alcohol (what sets the machine off) as an ingredient. Thus the nasty little machine is going to pick up on that.

Same goes for previous evidence, which defense counsel will surely try to introduce. In a parallel case, an expert witness stated the theoretical possibility that sorbitol could set off a breathalyzer, but dang cross-examination anyway: under cross, the witness admitted he knew of no case where it had actually happened.

Comparing Galluccio's claims about his oral hygiene and my dentist's advice, it sounds like a) he brushes too much and b) that he has some security issues about his mouth.

As well he ought. Instead of using toothpaste, Galluccio should try shutting his mouth more often, especially when alcohol is around. This is all a pity.

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