Can alcohol be detected in a saliva test?

Are you desperately trying to find ways to cheat on your sobriety test? Are you curious about whether your guilty drinking secret would show up on your next saliva test? Fear not, sober soldier! We’ve got all the answers for you. This article tackles everything from how long does alcohol stay in saliva to factors that could affect the accuracy of drug tests.


First things first- let’s establish some facts: saliva alcohol testing is real and it exists. It’s a common method used by law enforcement authorities for detecting drunk driving cases where blood or breath tests are unavailable or impractical.

But before we answer the ultimate question of whether booze can be found in a saliva specimen, let’s explore what exactly happens when one puts down that glass bottle full of happiness, hoplessness and hiccups (I made that last one up).

If only abstaining from drinking was as easy as saying “no” once. The reality is our body takes its sweet time getting rid of alcoholic substances – an average healthy adult eliminates around 0.015% per hour (source) which means even after consuming a small amount, it could take hours until the intoxication wears off completely.

Read on to learn more about salivary alcohol testing and see how accurate it truly is!

How Alcohol Travels Through Your System

Your body processes consumed ethanol via metabolism using oxygen-consuming enzymes called dehydrogenase in two stages – firstly into acetaldehyde then further into acetate which can later be converted into CO2 and H2O through oxidation process by liver enzymes (source).

My apologies if I lost you at acetal-alde-whaaat-now but bear with me – it’s going to be super informative and not at all like watching paint dry.

During the transition process, a fraction of ethanol gets diffused into blood where it can remain for up to several days depending on how frequently an individual indulges in drinking. This is also why alcohol detection tests work even after one stops drinking.

Salivary Alcohol Testing: How Does It Work?

Saliva testing works by detecting ethyl glucuronide (EtG) biomarker which is present even if alcohol has been consumed hours before the test (source). EtG stays within saliva for a longer period than in blood or urine, making it easier to detect traces of consumed alcoholic beverages long after they’re out of your system.

While I claimed throwing away that bottle wouldn’t instantly remove evidence from your body- what that means is once you’ve gone through detoxification, no more additional Ethanol will be produced as an effect from remaining substances and their biomarkers trapped in saliva. You can breathe easily now!

In addition to salivary ETG biomarkers saliva drug tests specifically designed are capable of identifying:

  1. Amphetamines
  2. Methamphetamines
  3. Marijuana
  4. Cocaine

Potential Factors That Could Affect The Accuracy Of Salivary Tests

Human bodies come in all shapes and sizes – some people feel little effects from consuming moderate amounts of alcohol whilst others could get intoxicated just looking at a glass full-o-grapes concentration.

Let’s take a look at some other factors which could contribute towards the accuracy of saliavry tests,

1) Frequency: If you consume large quantities often over time this increases the likelihood that certain molecular markers and metabolites are found within cellular fluids such as sweat, tears etc… .

2) Dilution: Diluted saliva sample could reduce the chances of finding detectable levels of biomarkers.

3) Interference: Consumption of acidic, citric and caffeinated beverages before tests have been known to cause negative feedback on test results.

4) Storage & Handling: Tests can provide erroneous results if it’s been exposed to extreme weather or handled incorrectly. As a general rule its better practice store in temperate environment between 2-8 degrees Celsius until testing.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Saliva Test?

So now we get down to ‘where-the-rubber-meets-the-road’ part -or in this context strap yourself in for some scientific data points source:

     According to findings published by PubMed – concentration levels drastically decrease within 6 hours after consumption.
  • EtG biomarker can be found up-to an average period of 24 hours after initial ingestion though that may vary.

While ETG is a reliable biomarker don’t count on passing sobriety checks if you drink heavily night before the exam.


To sum up: alcohol can indeed be detected through salivary drug testing long-term even when ethanol has left your body since biomarkers produced from first stage metabolism systematically produce detectable units over time!

However detection accuracy depends majorly upon how well training standards are adhered to during execution along with proper handling/storing protocol being followed correctly giving accurate, reliable test’s impossible for just stating inaccuracies Of any solo aspect as these things work together providing most truthful statements

Don’t try and deceive the authorities or trick tests. Instead, stay sober and know your limits!

Cheers (…with water, tea or soda that is!)


  1. Blood Alcohol Content-Wikipedia,
  2. Ballesteros, S., Zuccaro, P., & Patrono, C. (2013). Pharmacokinetics of ethanol and acetaldehyde in alcoholic beverages after oral administration–assessment of the factor of salivary metabolism. Food chemistry, 138(1), 57-63.
  3. Saliva Drug Testing – American Center For Equitable Laboratories(ACE),
    4) “How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System?”, 2021,

Disclaimer: The content provided here is not intended to act as a guide for cheating on sobriety or drug tests conducted legally under law enforcement guidelines and ethics standards herein referenced . We strongly advise against indulging in unethical behaviour such as tricks to manipulate test results outside legal specified grounds provided by your governing bodies where possible cause heavy consequences that impact general society’s lives considerably should an individuals be released when they are deemed unfit/unable due reasoning like intoxication which could lead to harmful accidents relating directly back into diverse communities poor lifestyle choices can also have significant impacts for individual mental/moral health state affecting friends family along with community at large.