Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How to Beat a Breathalyzer (Explained)

As an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, I've been asked about and/or heard stories about someone who was able to pass a breathalyzer test by doing something crazy like sucking on a penny or by eating right before the test.  Sure, there are all manner of urban legends out-there when it comes to beating a breathalyzer test, but are any of them true --- Is it possible to lower one's blood alcohol ("BAC") reading?  Let's see... 

Claim #1:  Sucking on a penny before taking a breathalyzer test will throw off your BAC.

Fact or Fiction:  Fiction.  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 #2:  Eating or drinking (coffee) - before taking the test will lower your BAC.

Fact or Fiction:  Fiction.  Much like the penny idea, 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 White Castle on your drive home, but absorbing nutrients has no measurable effect on your BAC.

Claim #3:  Using mouthwash will help me pass a breathalyzer.

Fact of Fiction:  Fiction.  This one has been around for a looooong time, but in all reality it maybe the worst way to "beat" the test.  Sure, 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 their BAC reading by gulping mouthwash before they blow.

Claim #4:  Burping will throw off the breathalyzer.

Fact or Fiction:  Fiction.  A study  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 Fiction:  Fact.

According to a recent study --- doing this (ie., varying your breathing pattern) immediately before taking a breathalyzer can alter a BAC reading.  The study had participants try out a variety breathing techniques, from keeping their mouth closed to adjusting their breathing techniques.  Granted, every technique resulted in a higher BAC reading than normal, except one.  

Higher BAC readings resulted when individuals held their breath  before taking the test, spent time breathing with their mouth closed before the test, and when they employed a 20-second inhalation breath technique.  

But, when individuals where able to evoke a state of hyperventilatiion (for 20 seconds immediately before taking a breathalyzer) there BAC results were, on average, 10% lower.  Why?  Well --- 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.  

In the end, the best way to beat the test is to not drink so much... FACT!

If you or someone you know needs help with a criminal case - such as a DWI --- please call the Rolloff Law Office and ask questions till your heart's content --- cool?  Cal/ today: (612) 234-1165.  

1 comment:

  1. A breathalyzer doesn't measure blood liquor level straight. For measuring the blood booze level blood specimen is needed.