How to Beat a Breathalyzer? Tricks Myth or Reality?

One of the most popular questions we get here at is whether it is possible to fool or beat a breathalyzer. The answer to this question is simply, no. However, because of the complexity of a breathalyzer and the misunderstandings of how it works, people have been coming up with some very interesting ideas on how to beat them.

Remember, if you do not see a myth below, send a comment to our breathalyzer experts and we will do our best to prove it a myth or reality. We would also love to hear how you think you can trick a breathalyzer.

Myth 1: Eating

Eating can help you sober up over the long run, but it won't help you beat a breath test. People have tried eating strong foods like onions, coffee grounds, breath mints, but all to no avail. Strong substances such as these will often mask the odor of alcohol on your breath, but that doesn't make the alcohol content disappear. When you blow into a breathalyzer, the device will still be able to read the alcohol in your breath.

Myth 2: Caffeine

Some people have tried drinking coffee or soda to sober up so they can drive home after consuming alcohol. But even though a jolt of caffeine and sugar can help you become more alert, none of these beverages changes your blood alcohol content.

Myth 3: Mouthwash before blowing into a breathalyzer

Mouthwash may be able to slightly mask the smell of alcohol on your breath, but like any other strong substance, it will not lower the breathalyzer readings. In fact, because mouthwash contains a small amount of alcohol, it could potentially increase the amount of alcohol registered on the breathalyzer. If you have not been drinking at all and use mouthwash, depending on when you used it and how much you used, it could register a "false positive" on a breathalyzer.

Myth 4: Putting a penny in your mouth while blowing

It is an urban legend whose source is unknown, but according to sources, one visibly intoxicated man actually was foolish enough to try the "penny under the tongue" trick. Considering that he was slurring his speech and could hardly remain standing due to his intoxication, it is no wonder that he failed the breathalyzer test. Even if he had passed, all that other visual evidence would have been enough to arrest him under suspicion of DUI. Remember: 0.08 percent BAC is just a per se limit, you can be arrested if you appear drunk and your BAC is lower.

Most people know that sucking on a penny, or any other type of change, does not trick the Breathalyzer into registering a falsely low blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Even sillier is that people who believe it think the penny trick works because of the penny's high copper concentration. Pennies have been made of 97.5% zinc since the 1980s.

Myth 5: Drinking Zima will not register on a breathalyzer

Because Zima does not smell as strongly of alcohol as other types of beer or liquor, there was a rumor floating around that drinking Zima, as your alcoholic beverage of choice would render your BAC undetectable by a breathalyzer. This myth, like that of eating breath mints or another strong substance, is based on the false assumption that there is no alcohol on your breath if there is no smell of alcohol on your breath. This is demonstrably false.

Myth 6: Eating your underwear

An 18-year-old man from Stettler, Alberta, Canada tried to eat his underwear, thinking that the cotton cloth would absorb the alcohol in his system. In March 2005, a 59-year-old man tried to fool a breathalyzer by stuffing his mouth full of feces. In each case, the breathalyzer was not fooled.

Myth 7: Having a friend blow into an ignition interlock device to start a car

Breathalyzers built into your car, called ignition interlock devices, are virtually tamper proof. You absolutely can't start your car without blowing into the breathalyzer, and if you try having someone else blow into the breathalyzer before you leave the bar, you'll get caught when the car stops for random rolling tests.

Myth 8: Breath Mints

The misguided notion that the smell of alcohol equals alcohol itself fuels the nonsensical belief that breath fresheners can fool a breath analysis test. All gums, mints and sprays do is mask the odor of alcohol on the breath, they do not change the alcohol content of the breath nor do they effect the chemical reactions used to determine the amount of alcohol present. All breath fresheners can do, particularly mouthwashes, is possibly increase the amount of mouth alcohol registered. Even though breath analysis tests have ways of distinguishing mouth alcohol from lung alcohol, the last thing a person would want to do is increase the BAC reading.

Myth 8: Belching while blowing into a breathalyzer

Many police officers believe that Breathalyzer results can be compromised if the subject belches while being tested, due to the increase in mouth alcohol caused by the belch. This belief is more fiction than fact. According to a 1992 University of Wisconsin study, belching had no effect on breath analysis test results even when subjects belched directly into the instrument.