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Can you beat a Breathalyzer test?

You’ve heard tons of urban legends about Breathalyzer tests and how you can beat them (should the occasion ever arise) — but are any of those stories actually true?

Probably not. Here’s what you need to know about beating a Breathalyzer:

Only one thing may help; most others will make your situation worse

People have tried all kinds of arguably questionable, ridiculous and outright unsafe methods of beating a Breathalyzer. The vast majority of things people report as “surefire” methods of fooling the machine are useless (at best), and some will actually increase the blood alcohol content (BAC) reading you get. These include:

  • Holding your breath before you blow (which can end up bumping up your BAC reading by 15%)
  • Belching into the machine (which is just bringing up more alcohol from your stomach into your breath)
  • Rinsing with mouthwash (the vast majority of which contain alcohol, which will then increase your Breathalyzer reading)
  • Using breath freshener (which also usually contains alcohol) before you blow

The frankly silly and useless methods people have tried to use to beat a Breathalyzer include sucking on a penny as they blow (which creates a risk of choking) and eating their underwear or napkins (both of which can make you sick).

The only thing that has been shown to lower a Breathalyzer test’s results is hyperventilating in a very specific fashion before and during the test — but you can bet that a police officer is going to spot you trying and simply make you retake the test. If that fails, they may get a warrant for a blood test.

It’s better just not to drink and drive

It’s far better to simply avoid the potential problems (and criminal charges) that come with a failed Breathalyzer test by not drinking and driving. However, if you do make a mistake, don’t try to figure out how to handle your defense on your own. This is the time to look for experienced legal guidance.