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Sucking pennies and eating paper won’t help you avoid a DUI

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2022 | DUI

Ever since Breathalyzers and similar devices designed to measure a suspected drunk driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) levels came widely into use back in the 1990s, a whole host of urban myths have sprung up about how to “beat” these tests.

Will popping a penny in your mouth (one of the most pervasive myths) before you blow into the Breathalyzer really confuse the machine and lower your reading? If you quickly swallow some paper, crackers or bread before you take the test, will that really soak up the alcohol in your system?

No, it won’t. Neither will any other much-hyped trick you may hear.

People have been trying – and failing – to fool breath alcohol content tests since they were developed. Part of the problem is that these urban legends are just totally hopeful fabrications that aren’t actually based in reality. There’s no chemical reaction caused by the copper in a penny (which is mostly zinc, anyhow) that will alter the machine’s reading.

Part of the problem is that some of the recommended methods people use to try to beat a BAC test can actually raise their readings.

Mouthwash, for example, may disguise the scent of beer on your breath, but most mouthwashes contain high levels of alcohol – so swishing before you blow into a device would put more alcohol molecules into your breath and be counterproductive. Intentionally burping a lot before taking the test is going to bring up more alcohol molecules out of your stomach, which will also raise your reading.

Finally, merely trying to beat the Breathalyzer is going to be incredibly obvious to the officer involved in your traffic stop. If you try hyperventilating before you submit to the test (which may be somewhat effective at lowering BAC readings), the officer is simply going to make you take the test again – or ask for a blood sample.

Down the line, your attempts to trick the machine and lower your BAC reading can also be brought up in court and used to show that you may have been entirely conscious of your guilt.

What’s the bottom line? It’s better to quietly submit to the breath testing and fight the results later. There are valid questions that can be raised in your defense, including questioning how well the machine was calibrated in the first place and whether the officer performed the test correctly.

If you’re charged with drunk driving this Halloween season, find out more about your defense options.

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