You can’t fool the DUI breath test: Don’t fall for the myths

| Jan 19, 2018 | Blood Alcohol Tests, Drunk Driving |

A person pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving might be asked to take a breath test to determine what their blood alcohol concentration percentage is. The results can determine whether they will face criminal charges or license suspension for drunk driving.

Many myths seem to continually circulate about “how to beat a Breathalyzer.” While these sound plausible in theory, they aren’t effective. Trying to beat the breath test with any of these pseudo-scientific methods will almost certainly lead to failure. Read on to separate fact from fiction.

These ‘beat the Breathalyzer’ myths do not work

These myths about DUI breath tests have been thoroughly debunked, yet they live on, spreading false hope and bad advice.

  • Chewing gum or using breath mints

Breath tests are not based on smell – they detect alcohol by “seeing” it with infrared sensors. Chewing gum or sucking on breath mints can’t cover up the ethanol molecules you exhale – it will not have any impact on the results of the test. Also, if your beer breath doesn’t get the officer’s attention, the overpowering cloud of Cool Mint probably will.

  • Gargling or swallowing mouthwash

Trying to use mouthwash to cover up the alcohol is likely going to be a very bad idea. Mouthwash can’t mask ethanol. In fact, using mouthwash can add another issue to the stop. Many mouthwashes contain denatured ethanol, which can make the results of the blood-alcohol test much higher than what they would have been without the mouthwash.

  • Sucking on a copper penny

Sucking on a penny has no impact on the results of a breath test. This old urban legend has been debunked. First of all, copper will not chemically alter alcohol. That is just junk science. Even if it did, most pennies these days do not even contain much copper – since 1983, U.S. pennies are composed primarily of zinc. (Also, who knows where that penny has been! Ew.)

  • Burping or vomiting

You can’t beat a breath test by belching or vomiting. In fact, vomiting can make the alcohol concentration in your mouth greater than what it normally is. When everything comes back up, the alcohol from your stomach comes along with it. Holding your breath before blowing into the Breathalyzer may have the same effect – exaggerating your BAC rather than minimizing it.

Avoiding driving after drinking is only surefire way to avoid dealing with an OWI/DUI arrest. If you do end up facing criminal charges, you need to carefully consider what options you have for addressing the issue. Though you cannot trick the breath test, factors like the training of the administering officer and the calibration record of the machine might have an impact on your defense strategy.