Top 3 Myths on Breathalyzers

by Dan Felton January 27, 2016

Top 3 Myths on Breathalyzers

Drunk driving. DUI. Workplace intoxication. Drinking alcohol can be relaxing and fun (and most times necessary, i.e., after a stressful day or the end of a stressful project), but the good times instantly end when your drunkenness affects the safety of other people. This is why Breathalyzers exist — to prevent terrible accidents and injuries.

As such, most Breathalyzers have been engineered for accuracy. For the rather clever individuals who want to — so to speak — beat their BAC (blood alcohol content) readings and get a pass on being taken to court or being dismissed from work, certain acts are practised. And most end up sounding so crazy that people wonder if there’s any truth to its efficacy.

To help you distinguish fact from fiction, here are top three myths that surround the Breathalyzer.

1. Drinking mouthwash is a good way to beat Breathalyzers.

Some mouthwash brands will contain some amounts of alcohol. So when you drink up a bottle before a screening, you may actually increase your BAC reading.

Using mouthwash will not hide the fact that you have been drinking just because the scent is masked. Oh sure, you will have minty fresh or sweet strawberry breath, but your BAC reading will still say you are liquored up.

2. All Breathalyzers will always be accurate.

While technology has paved the way for some very innovative Breathalyzers, not all will be able to distinguish the sober diabetics from the actual drunks. Diabetics who suffer from hypoglycemia may have acetone in the breath, and a Breathalyser may record this as alcohol. This may be cause for false arrest on a DUI charge or unreasonable termination from work.


3. When you suck on a penny, your BAC reading will be lower.

This has to be of one the more curious and bizarre myths that surround Breathalyzers. Not only will it leave a rather nasty taste in your mouth but you’ll also look ridiculous doing it. Moreover, it’s a widely known practice so those who screen you are likely to know about this trickery.

But here’s a more compelling reason to not suck on a penny: It does nothing to your BAC reading. The system that Breathalyzers use involves measuring BAC through an infrared light wave that passes through your mouth. This process also measures the drop in the intensity of light. And this prevents any residues found in pennies, i.e., copper and nickel, from impacting the BAC reading.

Dan Felton
Dan Felton