CAN YOU BEAT A BREATHALYZER TEST?

Sep 4, 2014 @ 11:23 AM — by Myles L. Berman

Everyday many people are stopped for DUI in California. When stopped by the police, the individual faces the pressure of submitting to a breathalyzer test. Many such individual have the mistaken belief that they can fool the breathalyzer machine into registering a lower reading. Some of these mistaken beliefs are based on Urban Legends passed along from one drinking buddy to another. Each goes something like “I heard of this guy who totally beat the machine. They had to let him go.” Or, “I know that foolproof way to beat a DUI. My friend’s buddy used this method and it totally worked.” As with any Urban Legend, there is no follow up work to determine its validity.  So today I plan to dispel these myths and tell you the only real way to beat a breathalyzer test.

Hyperventilating into the machine:   For years people have been told that if they hyperventilate into the breathalyzer and empty their lungs of as much alcohol as possible, then the breathalyzer reading will be lower. Now in theory, this is a good idea due to the fact that the breathalyzer measures the alcohol concentration in your lungs. However, in practice if a police officer sees you hyperventilating they may offer you a blood test, instead of a breath test. Also, during the time it takes to administer the breath test the alcohol levels will build back up in the lungs.

Eating: Eating food helps prevent an individual from feeling ill while consuming alcohol. It also helps metabolize the alcohol in the system.  However, the impact is minimal and the breathalyzer machine reading will be largely unaffected.

Caffeine: Drinking coffee may help an individual feel sober, however it has no impact on the breathalyzer machine.

Obstructing the breath tube: If an officer believes that you are obstructing the breath tube and they fail to get a reading they will require a blood test or deem that you refused to provide a sample. California routinely prosecutes people who have not given a breath sample.

Blowing lightly into the machine: The police typically order individuals to deeply inhale and blow harder into the machine. They do this because this produces higher readings. So, some individuals have successfully produced lower readings by blowing softer. The problem, however, is that this is a task that is almost impossible to perform as the police officer is closely monitoring the breath test.

Putting a penny in your mouth: Many years ago some chemistry buff thought that having a penny in the mouth when providing a breath sample will reduce the silver nitrate in the breathalyzer machine thus reduce the level of alcohol shown in the reading. The machines, however, have an oxidizing agent which prevents the reading from being altered. So, this plan is a failure as well.

So what works, you ask? Well, you need to switch your focus from beating the machine at the time of arrest to beating the machine after arrest. It takes a skilled attorney with a proven track record of success to beat a breathalyzer machine. So, in the future keep your pennies in your pockets and stay tuned for our next edition.  

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