Breathalyzer Myth


Have you ever heard about the breathalyzer myth that putting a penny under your tongue will help you trick a breathalyzer machine? Or that rinsing your mouth out will help lower your blood alcohol content (BAC) reading? Or that you should hold your breath for a long time right before you blow?

Unfortunately, none of these tips and tricks are true. Read on as a Birmingham DUI attorney debunks these myths and helps you understand exactly what to do if you are asked to blow into a breath test machine.

Myth #1: Sucking on a Penny

The urban myth that sucking on a penny can trick a breathalyzer machine is just that – a myth. The idea was that the copper and zinc in the penny would interfere with the chemical reaction that the breathalyzer machine translated into a BAC reading.

The problem is that breathalyzers do not actually work that way. Instead of using a chemical reaction, breathalyzers actually measure the concentration of alcohol in a person’s breath. So even if pennies do interfere with a chemical reaction in your mouth, they don’t affect the breathalyzer at all.

They just taste terrible and are covered in germs.

Myth #2: Rinsing with Water or Mouthwash

Another way many people say you can “fool” a breath test is by rinsing out your mouth with water or mouthwash before blowing into the machine. The problem with this myth is that, while it may rinse a very small amount of alcohol out of your mouth, it does not affect the amount of alcohol that is in your bloodstream and diffusing into your lungs – which is what the breathalyzer actually reads when you blow into it.

Also, most mouthwashes contain alcohol, so that would be counterproductive.

Myth #3: Holding Your Breath

The last myth we will debunk today is that, if you hold your breath for as long as possible before blowing into the machine, it will reduce the amount of alcohol in your breath and result in a lower BAC reading. The exact opposite is actually true.

The breathalyzer test measures the amount of alcohol in your lungs. So how did the alcohol get there in the first place?

When you drink alcohol, it isn’t all metabolized by your liver at once. Some of it enters into your bloodstream and makes its way through your system – sometimes several times – before it is entirely eliminated.

After you’ve had a few drinks, alcohol passes through the veins in your lungs every time your heart beats, and some of it diffuses into your lung cavities. Therefore, if you hold your breath, the alcohol builds up in your lungs with every heartbeat until you exhale.

Holding your breath does not decrease the alcohol content in your lungs – it increases it.

So What Do You Do if You’re Asked to Take a Breathalyzer Test?

You have two options if you are pulled over for DUI and are asked to blow into a breathalyzer machine:

  1. Refuse to take the test
  2. Take the test

Do not refuse a breathalyzer test, though. Alabama is an “implied consent” state. This means that, if you are driving on a public road, then you are considered to have “automatically consented” to taking a chemical test. If you refuse to take a BAC test, then your license will be immediately suspended, you will still be arrested, and you will still be charged with DUI.

Your best course of action is to take the test and retain a Birmingham DUI attorney immediately. Refusing a breath test does not guarantee that your DUI charge will not end in a conviction. Instead, the prosecution can use your refusal as an argument that you were trying to hide your intoxication.

Take the test. Call a lawyer. Fight your DUI.

Call a Birmingham DUI Attorney at (205) 536-7770

Tidwell Law Group, LLC has more than a decade of experience fighting drunk driving charges in the Birmingham area. We offer fierce and effective representation to reverse the suspension on your driver’s license when possible and prevent a DUI from harming your driving record. Don’t let a DUI ruin your reputation and your future.

Get a seasoned DUI defense lawyer from our firm on your side! Give us a call today to set up a case evaluation consultation!