Everyone has heard a story from a friend or a co-worker about someone who was able to pass a breathalyzer test by doing something crazy like sucking on a penny or by eating food right before the test. There are plenty of urban legends when it comes to beating a breathalyzer test, but which techniques can lower blood alcohol readings? Below we separate the facts from the myths.
Claim: Sucking on a penny before taking a breathalyzer test will throw off your BAC.
Fact or Myth: Myth. Breathalyzers measure BAC by passing an infrared light wave through your mouth and measuring the drop in intensity of the light. Sounds complicated, but it’s a system that prevents other residues, like copper and zinc in a penny, from throwing off the reading.
Claim: Eating food or drinking coffee will lower your BAC.
Fact or Myth: Myth. Much like the penny theory, eating food or drinking a coffee before driving home will not change your blood alcohol content. Eating a sandwich may prevent you from making an extra stop at Taco Bell on your drive home, but nutrient absorption in the stomach has no effect on your BAC.
Claim: Drinking mouthwash will help me pass a breathalyzer.
Fact of Myth: Myth. This urban legend has been circulating the Internet for years, but it’s one of the dumber ways to try to pass a breathalyzer. Mouthwash can mask the odor of alcohol, but it does nothing to lower a person’s BAC. In fact, because mouthwash often contains traces of alcohol, a person may actually increase the breathalyzer reading by gulping mouthwash before they blow.
Claim: Burping will throw of the breathalyzer.
Fact or Myth: Myth. A study by the University of Wisconsin found that there were no variances between breathalyzer readings when a subject burped while blowing into the machine.
Claim: Varying your breathing patterns can affect a breathalyzer test.
Fact or Myth: Fact.
A recent study found that varying your breathing patterns immediately before taking a breathalyzer impacted BAC readings. The study had participations try a variety of techniques, from keeping their mouth closed to adjusting their breathing techniques. Every technique resulted in a higher BAC reading than normal, except one. Below are the findings.
- Participants who held their breath for 30 seconds before taking the test saw a 15.7 % increase in their BAC.
- Keeping the mouth closed for five minutes and breathing through one’s nose resulted in a 7.3% increase in BAC.
- A slow, 20-second inhalation technique resulted in a 2% increase in BAC.
- Hyperventilating for 20 seconds immediately before taking a breathalyzer resulted in a 10.6% decrease in BAC readings.
Researchers found that less alcohol content is located in the first part of a breath than in the last part, and quick, short breaths have been found to slightly lower your BAC. With that said, an officer may ask you to breath normal if he catches you hyperventilating, and it would really only be effective if your reading was right around 0.8.
Claim: Intense exercise can lower your BAC.
Fact or Myth: Inconclusive.
Two studies reportedly saw a decrease in BAC after participants exercised, while other studies claimed they saw no changes in BAC. In one test, participants were tested before they ran up a flight of stairs, and then tested immediately after reaching the top. The findings showed an 11-14% drop in BAC in participants who ran up one flight of stairs, and a 22-25% drop in those who ran up two flights of stairs. Although it sounds interesting, good luck finding a flight of stairs after you’ve been pulled over for drunk driving. Also, running from the police will only make matters worse.
Related source: Yahoo News