Can You Really Fool a California Breathalyzer?

September 9, 2017

Don’t believe the old wives’ tales: you can’t fool a breathalyzer with this “tricks.”

Can You Really Fool a California Breathalyzer?

The stories have been around for as long as breathalyzers have been in use — tips and tricks for getting around breathalyzers. From gargling with mouthwash to sucking on pennies, each of these “tricks” will supposedly help you fool a breathalyzer and get away with driving under the influence. But do any of them actually work?

First, it is important to note that nobody should be drinking and driving. California takes the crime of driving under the influence very seriously, and for good reason. DUIs are a leading cause of death and injury across the country, and should always be avoided.

That being said, there are many situations where people are pulled over on suspicion of DUI or at a DUI traffic stop and may want to try to fool the roadside breathalyzer test administered by law enforcement. But do any of these tricks actually work? In short: NO. In fact, some of them may actually make your situation worse!

First, there is the penny trick. The mythology holds that sucking on a penny (gross) will fool a breathalyzer because something in the composition of the coin will throw off the calibration of the machine, so then you can claim that the whole system is off and have the test thrown out. The only problem with this theory is that it is entirely untrue. It’s an urban legend, and the only thing that you’ll likely get from sucking on a penny is a lot of gross stuff in your mouth.

Second, there is the myth that chomping down on raw garlic or onions will trick a breathalyzer and give you a lower reading. While eating raw garlic may slightly lower your breathalyzer reading, there is a pretty big practical hurdle here: most people do not carry raw garlic and onions. And then you also have to eat the raw garlic and onions, and hope that you can do so without the police noticing you doing so.

Third, there is a popular idea that using breath mints or mouthwash can fool the police and/or the breathalyzer because then you will have a higher level of mouth alcohol and it will throw off the reading. But the breathalyzer measures the level of alcohol in your breath, and the air is coming from your lungs — not your mouth. And if the police see you shoving mints in your mouth or taking swigs of mouthwash, they will likely conclude that you are trying to cover up the signs of intoxication, and then charge you with a DUI.

The best trick for “fooling” a roadside breathalyzer test is to simply decline to take one. That’s right: unless you are currently on DUI probation or under the age of 21, you do not have to take a roadside breathalyzer (known as a preliminary alcohol screening, or PAS) in California. So instead of storing onions, garlic, pennies and mouthwash in your car, learn your rights — and choose to take an Uber or a Lyft instead of driving if you have been drinking.

If you have been charged with a DUI, a skilled Los Angeles DUI attorney can help. Contact the Chambers Law Firm today at 855-397-0210 or to schedule a free initial consultation.

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