There are dozens of myths about how to beat a breathalyzer to lower your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) results. Unfortunately, while you can trick a breathalyzer, most techniques increase your BAC, making you more likely to fail. Beyond that, if an officer catches you trying to use some of the tricks people have told you are surefire means of “how to fool a breathalyzer,” you may automatically fail the test, and this can be used as evidence against you. Rather than trying to pass the breath test using these questionable methods, remember your rights during a DUI traffic stop and call a DUI attorney immediately after your arrest.
Tricks to Cheat the Breathalyzer that do Nothing
Most methods purporting to help you fool the breathalyzer will have no impact at all on your test results. Don’t rely on these ideas to help you avoid a DUI:
Sucking on a Penny
Many people claim sucking on a penny will help you beat a breathalyzer because, supposedly, the copper will neutralize the alcohol in your mouth. There are two problems with this theory. First, modern pennies don’t contain a significant amount of copper.
Beyond that, even completely neutralizing the alcohol in your mouth wouldn’t affect your test results because breathalyzer tests measure the alcohol deep in your lungs, not in your mouth. To ensure nothing in a person’s mouth could affect their breath results, police are supposed to wait at least 15 minutes before testing a suspect.
Putting a Battery in Your Mouth
Holding a battery in your mouth will give you the same result as the penny, leaving you with no change to your breathalyzer results. That being said, you could potentially get a quick electric shock, depending on the type of battery you use.
Using Breath Mints or Gum
Using mints or gum to hide the smell of the alcohol could make it harder for police officers to smell alcohol on your breath, but this could also make police more suspicious because they’ll wonder what you’re trying to hide.
As for your breath results, mints and gum won’t do anything for the same reason that pennies and batteries can’t help you avoid a DUI —they won’t affect the alcohol vapors from your lungs from getting tested by the breathalyzer.
Eating Toilet Paper or Fabric
Some desperate people have tried eating toilet paper or clothing to absorb the alcohol in their stomachs, keeping it from entering their bloodstream. Just as eating food while drinking can keep your BAC reading lower, eating paper or fabric could help you avoid a DUI if you did it before or while you drank alcohol. Unfortunately, eating anything after you have finished drinking and been pulled over by police will not help you avoid a DUI.
If you are going to eat something to help keep your blood alcohol content down, stick with food. Paper and clothing aren’t very good for your digestive system.
What Can Mess With a Breathalyzer?
Many things can affect a breathalyzer test result —the only problem is that most of them make the results higher, not lower. Avoid attempting any of the following if you want to pass the breath test:
Rinsing With Mouthwash
At best, mouthwash will be as ineffective as mints or gum and make the officer suspicious. At worst, your chosen mouthwash may contain alcohol, potentially increasing the amount of alcohol that shows up in your breath test.
Smoking Before Testing
For some people, this trick won’t affect their BAC at all, but heavy smokers tend to have higher levels of acetaldehyde in their systems. Unfortunately, while this can change the results of your breathalyzer test, it won’t lower them but make them higher!
Vomiting, Burping, or Having Acid Reflux
Breathalyzers are supposed to measure air from deep within the lungs, and alcohol in the mouth of a test taker will provide an artificially high reading. Puking, belching, or acid reflux produce mouth alcohol. Police are not supposed to give breathalyzer tests to those who have vomited or belched within 15 minutes of the test, but they sometimes fail to notice that a suspect has regurgitated.
Having a Fever
Studies have shown that even a one-degree centigrade change in a person’s body temperature can increase a person’s BAC by up to 9%. If you have a fever, this slight increase could mean the difference between passing or failing a breathalyzer.
On that note, avoid driving after consuming cold medications because the alcohol in these drugs, combined with your fever, could result in your failing the breath test.
While most people think breathalyzers test how much alcohol is on someone’s breath, the reality is that they actually measure for methyl compounds. The problem is that alcohol is not the only methyl compound that might show up. Acetone is also a methyl compound, and hypoglycemic spikes can cause acetone to build up in a diabetic’s body. As a result, diabetes makes the breathalyzer think there is more alcohol in your body than there actually is.
Being on a Low Carb Diet
Low-carb diets, such as Keto, Atkins, gluten-free, and paleo diets, cause the body to start turning fat reserves into energy. As this occurs, the body generates ketones (where the keto diet gets its name), which, in turn, create isopropyl alcohol. While this compound won’t get you drunk (otherwise, you’d have a lot of buzzed dieters everywhere), it can be misinterpreted as ethanol alcohol on a breathalyzer test, causing your results to be falsely inflated.
Additionally, your body might produce higher than normal levels of acetone while dieting, the same substance that can raise the BAC of those with diabetes. Acetone is another substance that breathalyzers can identify as alcohol. With your body potentially releasing two chemicals that can be mistaken for alcohol by a breathalyzer, you might be better off taking a blood test to get a more accurate reading if you are on a low-carb, keto, paleo, or gluten-free diet.
Suffering From Gum Disease or Wearing Dentures
Periodontal diseases, including gingivitis, cause pockets inside the gums, which can hold alcohol inside the mouth. This same problem occurs when a person wears dentures or has a bridge or dental cap. While this alcohol may not be ingested and result in a person becoming more intoxicated, it will result in pure alcohol entering a person’s breath when they exhale.
Unfortunately, breathalyzers are designed to test the blood alcohol content from the air deep in a test subject’s lungs. When the person has residual alcohol fumes in her mouth, this can result in the BAC showing up artificially high. Unlike many other things that cause mouth alcohol, these dental issues do not leave the mouth during the 15-minute period of officer observation prior to the administration of a breathalyzer. While breathalyzers do have mouth alcohol detectors, which are supposed to invalidate a breath sample coming from mouth alcohol, experts say these detectors are not entirely reliable.
To make matters worse, when someone has severe gingivitis, they may have frequently bleeding gums. If they blow blood into the breathalyzer chamber, the results will be even more falsely inflated because the blood from the gums will absorb the alcohol trapped there.
How to Beat a Breathalyzer -The One Real Method
You can successfully trick a breathalyzer in at least one way —changing your breathing patterns in precisely the right way. If you exercise or hyperventilate just before using the device, your lungs will bring in new, clean air that hasn’t absorbed as much of the alcohol in the capillaries of your lungs. Studies show that heavy breathing can reduce your BAC by as much as 10 percent.
Unfortunately, when you’ve been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, you probably won’t be able to get the chance to run a marathon or do a full workout just before blowing into the breathalyzer, so exercising probably isn’t an option. While hyperventilating may help, police are generally on the lookout for efforts to manipulate the breathalyzer test and try to ensure test-takers breathe normally into the device.
Interestingly, other breathing patterns can raise your BAC, most notably, holding your breath before testing. You also want to avoid breathing in, rather than out, while taking a breath test, as breathalyzers can detect which direction air is flowing. If officers recognize that you are breathing in on the test, they may automatically fail you for attempting to cheat.
What to do if Your Breathalyzer Was Falsely High
You don’t have to fall victim to a breathalyzer-cheating myth to end up with a falsely inflated BAC. Many things can cause these tests to go wrong, and DUI defense attorneys can help you challenge the results of these tests under the law.
To help protect your rights and freedoms when the police stop you, avoid saying anything beyond confirming your identity, as anything you say could be used as evidence. For example, saying you didn’t drink anything besides NyQuil can be used as evidence that you used a medication that can affect your driving.
When you are released from custody, immediately write down every detail of your DUI experience before, during, and after the traffic stop. Even a tiny detail, like the smell of chemicals in the room, can help your lawyer fight your breathalyzer results.
If your failproof method for how to cheat a breathalyzer ends up being bogus and you find yourself facing DUI charges, call DUI defense lawyer Peter M. Liss to discuss your case. You can schedule a free consultation by calling (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024.