Breathalyzer Myths (and Facts) You Should Know – Explained by our Expert DUI Defense Attorney
Below is a look at some common myths and misconceptions surrounding breathalyzers and drinking and driving. If you were arrested for DWI or DWAI in Long Island and need smart, capable lawyers to mount a strong case in your defense, call 888-DUI-LAWYER for a free consultation on the circumstances surrounding your arrest.
Common Breathalyzer and Drinking and Driving Myths
You can trick a breathalyzer by eating certain foods, such as garlic or breath mints.
Mints or garlic will certainly change your breath (for better or worse) and may mask the smell of any alcoholic beverages you may have been drinking, but they won’t change your blood alcohol content (BAC), which is what the breathalyzer measures. Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream, and during the body’s process of oxygenating your blood, gases are exchanged between the lungs and the bloodstream. The breathalyzer measures that alcohol concentration in the lungs and is not fooled by odors from foods.
Sucking on a penny will cause the breathalyzer to give a different reading.
There simply is not any reliable scientific evidence behind this idea. Plus you would need to suck the penny in secret or else have to explain why you were sucking a penny prior to taking a breath test.
Hyperventilating or holding your breath can fool a breathalyzer.
This may be at least partly true. Hyperventilating before taking a breathalyzer may actually result in a lower BAC reading than if you had been breathing normally. Holding your breath before blowing, on the other hand, is more likely to result in a higher BAC result. Either way, remember that you are being observed by police from the very moment you are pulled over, so any suspicious-looking breathing can be noted and used against you.
You know when you are impaired.
You may well know when you feel safe to drive or not, but that may not correspond to whether your BAC is .08% (DWI) or .05% (DWAI). You could be driving safely even above the legal limit but still get pulled over for some other reason, or you may be under the legal limit but still make some unsafe traffic maneuver that gives the police reason to pull you over. Also, remember that alcohol releases inhibitions and exaggerates people’s self-confidence, so you may think you have more capability to drive than you actually do.
Drinking coffee or water will sober you up faster.
The only factor that causes you to sober up is time. It takes time for the body to metabolize the alcohol in your bloodstream, and drinking coffee or water will not speed up that process or “dilute” the amount of alcohol in your blood. Drinking reasonable amounts of water or coffee may make you feel better if you have been drinking and have become dehydrated or acquired a headache, but it won’t change how a breathalyzer measures your BAC.
Eating food will help you get sober.
Just as with drinking coffee or water, eating does not make your body metabolize the alcohol in your blood any faster, and the food you eat does not “absorb” the alcohol in your body.
Breathalyzer Myths that Actually Hold some Truths, According to DUI Lawyers
Although there is a lot of misinformation out there about how breathalyzers work, some things you hear which may sound hard to believe actually have some truth to them.
Dieting, fasting or diabetes can give false readings to police and breathalyzers.
A person having a diabetic or hypoglycemic attack can exhibit many behaviors which look to police like drunken behavior, including confusion, slurred speech or slow reflexes. Also, diabetes, like extreme dieting or fasting, can generate ketones and acetones in the body which not only give an odor like someone has been drinking, but can also be misread by a breathalyzer machine as ethyl alcohol. If these conditions are present in your case, a skilled DUI defense attorney can bring out these facts and demonstrate their relevance to your defense.
“Mouth alcohol” can cause an abnormally high BAC reading.
The breathalyzer measures lung air, but that lung air obviously mixes with mouth air on its way from the lungs to the breathalyzer device. If you recently used mouthwash or breath spray before taking the breathalyzer, the machine may register a higher BAC. Police are supposed to observe you for a period before administering a breathalyzer to prevent this from happening, but they do not always do so.
Some mouth pain medicines also contain a high concentration of alcohol. Other medications, such as asthma inhalers, may give false readings as well.
Finally, while you may think that popping a mint as the officer approaches is just the polite thing to do, they may mistake your courtesy as a sign that you are trying to cover up the fact that you have been drinking.
Know the Facts, Know Your Rights, and Call 888-DUI-LAWYER after a Long Island DWI Arrest
Just because you may have had a drink or two in a time period before driving, this does not mean you are intoxicated above the legal limit or that your driving will be impaired. However, the laws are very strict, and many people get caught up in these laws even though they have not done anything wrong. The most important thing is to know your rights when you are stopped, and contact an experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible after an arrest. In Long Island, call 888-DUI-LAWYER for immediate assistance, practical advice and strong, effective representation.