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Can you “trick” a breathalyzer test?

On Behalf of | Jul 26, 2023 | DUI

Breathalyzer tests are used to determine a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) quickly and non-invasively. Law enforcement agencies rely on these devices to identify drivers under the influence. 

However, some individuals have tried to trick these tests, raising questions about their reliability and whether it is possible to “trick” a breathalyzer

Understanding breathalyzer technology

Before delving into potential tricks, you need to know how breathalyzers work. These devices measure the alcohol content in a person’s breath, which is proportional to the alcohol concentration in their blood. The most common technology employed is infrared spectroscopy or fuel cell sensors.

Mouthwash and breath mints

One tactic used to “trick” a breathalyzer is consuming large amounts of mouthwash or breath mints. The idea is to create a false positive by having the alcohol from the mouthwash or breath mints register on the breathalyzer, thereby overshadowing any alcohol in the bloodstream. However, modern breathalyzers are designed to detect residual mouth alcohol, and officers are trained to wait for a specific duration before conducting the test to avoid this issue.


Some individuals believe that hyperventilating before a breathalyzer test can reduce the accuracy of the results. The theory is that hyperventilation might temporarily lower the BAC reading. While this technique might show slight variations in readings, law enforcement officers will likely recognize the signs of deliberate hyperventilation and may delay the test or use alternative testing methods.

Breathalyzer apps and devices

Several smartphone apps and handheld breathalyzer devices claim to help individuals estimate their BAC accurately. However, these should not be relied on to tell you if you can drive safely after drinking. They lack the precision and calibration of law enforcement-grade breathalyzers.

As you see from the information here, trying to “trick” a breathalyzer test isn’t an effective method to avoid getting a DUI. While you can refuse a breathalyzer test in Virginia, this is against the state’s implied consent laws, and there will be consequences. Knowing your rights and options in this situation is important to protect yourself. 

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