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You Can't Beat a Breathalyzer Test

Tracy Davenport Tracy Davenport
4th July 2021
You Can't Beat a Breathalyzer Test
There's no way to beat the test (Getty Images).

The Claim

You can beat a breathalyzer test.

Emerging story

You don’t have to look far on social media to find advice on how to beat a blood alcohol breathalyzer test. But is it even possible? 

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Misbar’s Analysis

Misbar has discovered that according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, alcohol breath-testing devices use the amount of alcohol in exhaled breath to calculate the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood. When a person drinks alcohol, it goes into the stomach and small intestine and is quickly absorbed in the blood. Within minutes of having an alcoholic drink, a person’s blood alcohol level can be measured. About 90% of any alcohol consumed is broken down by the liver; the rest is eliminated through urine and breath.

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One of the internet rumors about beating the breathalyzer test includes putting a penny under your tongue. Some people think that this works by the copper changing the reading and lowering the alcohol level. These days, however, the penny is 97.5% zinc and only 2.5% copper; so even if the trick would have worked in the past, it would be hard to pull off now.

Others have wondered about whether eating (underwear and other stuff) will change the breathalyzer results. Eating something may dilute what is in your stomach or slow alcohol’s diffusion from the stomach to the bloodstream, but it will do nothing to change the amount of ethanol already dissolved in the blood. 

Some have suggested gargling with mouthwash before taking the breathalyzer test. According to the American Council on Science and Health, not only will this not help, but it could even give a false positive. Some mouthwashes contain alcohol, so if you just gargled it, you could test positive. 

If you have been drinking alcohol, there is not a way to beat the breathalyzer results; and that’s probably a good thing. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, about 28 people in the U.S. die in drunk-driving crashes per day, which is one person every 52 minutes. 

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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