Some Breathalyser Myths

Breathalyzer Myths

We are often asked to comment on ways to ‘beat the breathalyser’. The reality is that the only way is in fact to not drink in the first place. However several myths have developed over the years – here is our take on some of the more common ones.

Food can Fool an Alcohol Breath Tester – False

Food before you drink can slow the passage of alcohol into your blood stream but it won’t help you beat a breathalyzer test. A breath alcohol tester does not “smell” alcohol on your breath the way an officer can. Masking the smell of alcohol with breath mints, onions, gum or anything else won’t change the alcohol content of your breath or the reading on a quality alcohol breath tester.

Coffee Helps Me Sober-up Faster and Lower My BAC – False

Coffee is a great substitute for another alcoholic drink after you’ve had too many, but it will not change or mask your breath alcohol content (BAC). Only time will reduce your BAC.

Mouthwash & Breathspray will Fool a Breath Tester – True and False

Mouthwash and breath spray may mask the smell of alcohol on your breath, however using these substances just prior to a breath test may actually increase the BAC level you register. Mouthwash and breath sprays frequently contain alcohol and will leave residual alcohol in your mouth and on your breath for up to fifteen minutes after use. You are very likely to register a higher result if you use these products a few minutes prior to being breath tested. It is important to note here that obtaining an accurate alcohol test result requires two things:

  1. an accurate instrument and
  2. utilization of proper testing procedures. That is why it is universally accepted that an accurate result requires waiting 15 minutes to take the breath sample after the tested subject has put anything into his her mouth

Nyquil Will Set Off a Breath Detector – True

Nyquil and other similar products do contain alcohol, just like beer, wine, and liquor. As such, they can contribute to or cause inebriation if consumed in sufficient quantities. Alcohol testing devices do not differentiate between types or brands of drinks; they merely provide an accurate indication of BAC.

My Breathalyzer Test was Positive Because I’m a Diabetic – True and False

Quality fuel cell based breath testers such as Alcolizer and those used by Law Enforcement are not affected by ketones, a class of chemicals often produced in the body of persons with diabetes. However, this is another example of where semiconductor alcohol testers can react to other substances in the breath besides alcohol and thus result in false positives and false accusations.

Coins will Absorb Alcohol and Fool a Breathalyzer – False

A penny in your mouth or under your tongue will not change your level of intoxication or fool a quality breathalyzer. Pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, etc. do not absorb or mask alcohol. As a matter of proper testing protocol, officers make sure you have no substances in your mouth before conducting a breath alcohol test. Finding loose change in your mouth is likely to raise suspicions that you have something to hide

Breathalyzers can be Triggered by Other Substances – True and False

This true or not based on the breath alcohol detection technology used in your breath tester. Alcolizer HH3, like our Law Enforcement unit the Alcolizer LE5, is alcohol specific because it utilizes fuel cell sensing. Inferior testers may be triggered by other substances such as ammonia, carbon monoxide and ketones, as will the inexpensive semiconductor breathalyzers.

Semiconductor detection technology is not alcohol specific and will react to many other volatile substances in the breath or in the air. This can easily cause false readings.

Perfume can Cause an Incorrect Reading – Highly Unlikely

Perfume may contain alcohol but this evaporates from the skin and disappears within seconds or minutes. Additionally, since quality breath testers are closed loop, sealed systems where one breathes directly into the mouthpiece the amount of residual alcohol in the environment is basically not a factor as the device is sampling only lung air. This one is highly unlikely.

Cigarette Smoke can Damage My Breathalyzer – True

Alcohol testing devices frequently warn consumers not to blow cigarette smoke into the device as it will damage the unit. Cigarette smoke can reduce the life of a fuel cell sensor so it should not be blown directly into the Alcolizer.

If I Hold a 9 Volt Battery to My Tongue I can Fool the Breathalyzer – False