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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

Can You Beat a Breathalyzer Test?

By November 15, 2013

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This is a typical breathalyzer. (Elza Fiuza)A breathalyzer is a device used to determine blood alcohol concentration (BAC) by measuring the amount of alcohol in a sample of your breath. Have you ever wondered whether it's possible to beat a breathalyzer test? There are several ideas that have been tried and tested and found to either not-help or even cause you to test higher and one way that has been shown to lower your breath alcohol level.

Things That May Worsen Your Breathalyzer Test Results

Let's start with a list of things you can do to make your breath extra-alcoholic. Try these if you want to be ticketed or jailed or whatever.
  • Applying breath spray before the test. Many of these contain alcohol. In fact, if you spray Binaca into your mouth before the test, you could potentially achieve an apparent BAC of 0.8, which is above the lethal limit for alcohol. It's also worth noting some of these products will give you a false positive up to 20 minutes after using them.
  • Using mouthwash. Again, many of these products contain alcohol. For example, Listerine is about 27% alcohol. Similarly, some breath mints contain sugar alcohols.
  • Chasing your hardcore booze with a Zima. Apparently some people think Zima is non-alcoholic or somehow absorbs alcohol you have already imbibed. No, on both counts.
  • Belching into the breathalyzer. Now this one is based on the idea that gas from your stomach will contain less alcohol than gas from your lungs. Although it sounds good in theory, in practice your burp will give you a similar or even higher breathalyzer test result than simply breathing into the device.
  • Holding your breath. If you hold your breath you allow more time for alcohol to diffuse into your lungs, increasing the apparent BAC as measured by a breathalyzer by up to 15%.

Things That Will Not Help You Pass a Breathalyzer Test

While these actions won't worsen your test results, they won't lower your apparent BAC in a breathalyzer test.
  • Eating feces or your underwear. I have no idea why this is supposed to help, and yes, people have tried it.
  • Chewing gum.
  • Sucking on pennies. Apparently this myth has something to do with a purported reaction between copper and alcohol. Even if this were true, pennies consist primarily of zinc.

How to Beat a Breathalyzer Test

The one action you can take that will reduce your apparent BAC on the breathalyzer test is to hyperventilate before taking the test. What you are doing here is replacing the alcoholic gas in your lungs with as much fresh air as possible. While this will reduce your BAC test value by up to 10%, you'll still test positive for alcohol. If you're near a limit, you might be able to beat the test. If you're seriously drunk, all you're likely to do is make yourself dizzy so you can fail all of the other tests, such as walking a line or touching your finger to your nose.

References

Still convinced eating your underwear or swishing around mouthwash will help you? Here are some references to check out:

Mitchell, C. Ainsworth (March/April 1932). "Science and the Detective". The American Journal of Police Science (Northwestern University) 3 (2): 169-182.

Bogen E (June 1927). "The Diagnosis of Drunkenness--A Quantitative Study of Acute Alcoholic Intoxication". Cal West Med 26 (6): 778-83.

Other Methods?

Do you know of other methods reported to beat a breathalyzer test? If so, please post a reply.

Comments

March 5, 2012 at 4:58 am
(1) norman nicolson says:

The best way to beat a breath test is not to drink and drive, works every time.
Mouthwashes are a waste of money , they kill the mouth bacteria that protect us from Heliobacta Pilori (stomach ulcers)

March 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm
(2) Nurse Pauline says:

Heliobacter pylori, do you mean?

March 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm
(3) brittany says:

haha this is very funny:)

March 11, 2012 at 7:01 am
(4) julius sanders says:

Dear Nurse Pauline did you ever consider that a corection between Y or I in a spelling is just pointless pedanicsm? all it does is spread bad feelings on a site that is primarily aimed at youg people wanting to learn. Seeing such pointlless ridicule will lower their chance of participating in all learning areas.

March 15, 2012 at 5:19 am
(5) hosam ddeen says:

I never drink any way but I was wondering if smelling some acetic acid glacial ….. it smells really bad but beats being arrested

July 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm
(6) Andrew/ says:

I can remember at school we worked out a bunch of chemicals (I forget what they were) that you could keep in a pouch in your mouth that would absorb the alcohol and thus enable you to pass the breath test regardless of how much you had to drink.

On the other hand, they would do so much damage to the inside of your mouth, an urgent and emergency rush to hospital would be required to repair the damage…

We decided that not drinking and driving (preferred) or a spell in jail would be the better option…

August 17, 2012 at 12:56 am
(7) julie says:

just played with the neighbors breathalizer and yes hyperventialation did work by at least 10%:-)

October 7, 2012 at 1:42 am
(8) tina says:

the best way to beat a test if you are not seriously not drunk, but had a couple, is to not blow, what i mean is, just puff a little, then pooch your cheeks out so it looks like you are blowing, this messes up their little machine, then if they say, do it again and blow hard, just wisp a little breathe and pooch your cheeks out as is you were blowing hard, but do not blow, only wisp, this really messes up their little machine and makes them feel as if it is defective!!!

October 19, 2012 at 11:31 pm
(9) na says:

Someone told me carry mustard packs or a thing of vinegar to help and I’m free yo

October 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm
(10) mark maycock says:

I have experimented with a fuel cell breath tester and have found reductions up to 40%

November 10, 2012 at 10:43 pm
(11) Officer Intox says:

You cannot scam a breath testers by faking it as Tina said. breath testers have flow sensors that tell when you are not putting enough air through them. Playing games with the tester is a good way to piss off the cop your are dealing with who might have otherwise been inclined to cut you a break. I know, since I’ve seen hundreds of breath tests done in my employment at the Sheriff’s Office I work for.

November 26, 2012 at 12:13 pm
(12) punjab says:

Yes, you can beat a breathalyser by simply NOT drinking and driving.

December 6, 2012 at 12:28 am
(13) Vinny says:

To all those who’s answer is “dont drink and drive…”i say…”no sh*t sherlock!!!

December 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm
(14) Lab Tech Chris says:

Nurse Pauline,
Helicobacter pylori, do you mean? Stupid head.

December 13, 2012 at 11:32 am
(15) Question Mark says:

It is amusing that these sites/posts on the internet actually focus more on avoiding the subject rather than speaking it clearly. Yes there are ways to beat a breathalyzer and yes there are ways breathalyzer tests will become unreliable. Regarding the title of this page and your knowledge, a simple “I don’t know of any, move on to the next reference” would’ve sufficed.

December 17, 2012 at 6:48 pm
(16) Chemist says:

The breathalyzer test is a deterrent, driving and drinking
is a serious flaw in thinking, The attitude is safety first
always. Your worth the price of a cab ride home safely

December 22, 2012 at 12:52 am
(17) jon says:

pretty sure that .08 is not the LETHAL limit….

January 1, 2013 at 8:26 pm
(18) mike says:

You guys cans say what you want but i had to breathalyze the day after new years and i got hammered the night before, used mustard and passed with flying colors…p.s if your gonna act all high and mighty learn to articulate your thoughs dipsh*t

January 14, 2013 at 11:57 am
(19) jjjjj says:

The way to beat it is to smoke prior to blowing into it, make sure you dont entirely breath out all smoke, then blow smoke into the machine thus poisoning the electrodes – source – electrochemist

January 26, 2013 at 1:20 am
(20) imagoodimp says:

What if you shot the alchohol in the butt. Supposed ti get you messed up quick.

February 21, 2013 at 5:56 am
(21) johnny says:

my
mate drunk a bottle of vodka,and he berped then blew and it worked.

March 2, 2013 at 10:52 pm
(22) Reuben says:

There is only one proven way that you don’t see around much. It’s painfull and will give you a bad hurtburn. Always carry a bottle of pure white vinegar in the car, the stuff they sell at WM for 99c. The moment you see cops, grab your vinegar, drink as much as you can and hide the bottle. You will stink like hell so make sure the cops dont notice. By the time you blow there will be so much acetic acid fume in your breath that should convert all the alcohol into esters that cannot be measured by the typical testers

Attention, not everybody can drink straight vinegar, it will hit you in the head like a hammer, but if your are in deep shit, it’s worth the pain. Worked for me down to zero reading. Good luck.

March 3, 2013 at 11:36 am
(23) Luke says:

Wow lol this article (and comments) is just idiotic. I might make an article titled “How to avoid getting pregnant” then list myths that don’t work followed by a bunch of retarded comments saying “Simple, just don’t have sex” or “Simple, just be a male”.

*facepalm*

April 11, 2013 at 3:11 pm
(24) Chloe Mcginley says:

I think you should not drink or drive it works both ways

April 18, 2013 at 4:13 am
(25) Wiz says:

This is how you beat it chew on a bounty laundry fabric softner keep in between the teeth an blow if the cop see it in your mouth your going to jail if not your going home it works without it I blew .333 with it I blew 0.04

April 23, 2013 at 3:52 am
(26) Akosic says:

It’s not always about drink driving. Some work places have regular test and require zero reading. Sometimes this is hard if you’ve been celebrating. It happened to me today and I nearly lost my job!

May 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm
(27) experience says:

Breathalyser measures alcohol levels deep in your lungs, hence the requirement to blow for an extended period. If you breathe deeply for a while while awaiting the test this should reduce the alcohol/Blood ratio.
IF YOU ARE NEAR THE LIMIT, I.E. 2 PINTS IN A ONE PINT LIMIT JURISDICTION, this may help’ it would not help anyone who was too far gone to remember. Two or three minutes before the test hold your breath and then breathe out, do not breathe in, hold it for ten seconds then breathe out again, repeat one more time, as far as possible. When you can’t stand it anymore breathe in again, with luck you should have replaced a lot of the alcohol soaked air in your lower lung and pass the test.
WONT WORK for serious offenders! but may help people on the borderline!

May 27, 2013 at 6:50 am
(28) Jones Tunzo says:

Trying GAVISCON can help

June 15, 2013 at 11:26 pm
(29) wayne says:

what would you have to do to pass for a random probation test if you where drinkin the nite before

June 26, 2013 at 2:33 pm
(30) guy in a jeep says:

i rolled my jeep and was pinned under it. gasoline was poring out of the jeep. i was not drinking but had beer in the jeep along with the rest of my groceries. the blood test at the er showed a near lethal amount of alcohol in my blood. as i said, i was not drinking. i must have been from being pinned down in a pool of gas. how do i prove it so as not to get a dui.

July 2, 2013 at 12:16 am
(31) napolean bonapart says:

i hear if you drink your pee, do 17 jumping jacks and make a funny face, youll not only pass your breathalizer but the cop will also turn into a brazilian m.

July 10, 2013 at 5:36 pm
(32) Nona says:

This is the most dumbest answer I have ever seen in my life…. are you seriously that bored????

July 27, 2013 at 8:58 am
(33) Kevin says:

The best way to beat it is to never take it. Now require a blood test which is much better then the very incorrect breathalyzer however also require a time when they will be testing it. I have seen people get a dwi well not drunk… cops love to have a good recorded with numbers of people guilty, Just because dwi kills many people that does not make it right to get anyone they want with a dwi even if they are not guilty.

August 3, 2013 at 11:24 am
(34) bugmenot9 says:

I did like Tina said and beat the breath test. Blew about .075 which is under the limit. If I had not done that I would have definitely blown above .10. The cop looked at the machine told me he knew I had been drinking but sent me home anyway.

August 5, 2013 at 10:55 am
(35) Jake says:

Not sure why you would want to beat a breathalyzer. Just avoid the situation entirely by using a portable breathalyzer before you hit the road.

That’s what we do and it saves lives.

August 6, 2013 at 8:11 am
(36) zip says:

You know everyone says don’t drink and drive and you’ll pass it There’s people get me ssed with for waling home from a bar public intox

August 10, 2013 at 1:46 pm
(37) jimmy says:

Just get out and run.Most of the donut eating cops will never catch you. Report the car stolen,and dont go home till next morning

August 11, 2013 at 10:16 pm
(38) Jerry Hoback says:

Be a responsible adult and take responsibility I plead guilty and pulled the max year for my first DUI and two years for eludding

August 22, 2013 at 5:32 am
(39) drunk mate says:

just don’t drink and drive use heroin instead. or smoke some crack

August 24, 2013 at 5:07 pm
(40) Frank Gonzales says:

Yes everyone knows not to drink n drive but im about to get a portable alcohol monitor device. Im going to have to blow in it three times a day.

August 24, 2013 at 7:56 pm
(41) ransom says:

Dont drink and drive, smoke a big old fat bluntxD they caint do shit about that.but if you do get caught in this situation.cough on to breathalizer.ussualy works

August 29, 2013 at 3:08 pm
(42) airedog says:

Right on Nurse. Don’t accept expert wannabe misspelling!

September 3, 2013 at 4:55 pm
(43) Gonzo says:

The best way to deal with the situation if it arises is to have a planned cross country route, a four wheel drive, possibly a weapon if required. If you refuse to be pulled, head towards the planned cross country route, with weapon in tow. Make sure you have night vision goggles so that you can switch your lights off, then the police have a serious problem. Make sure that you also have a lot of bubblegum just in case you do get caught along with 100 x 1p you can chew on these whilst getting chased. Head towards the nearest river bail out and run like f***, if they do catch up then you might be able to beat them slightly in the hope you escape. If this does not work at least they wont smell the alcohol on your breath, not to say that you are going to trick the machine. Having said all this when driving pissed use cross country routes then you don’t need the weapon, night vision goggles, bubble gum or 100 x 1pennies. Its called green lanes. Piece to all you piss artist that want to drink and drive!!!!

September 4, 2013 at 12:34 pm
(44) dick head says:

I love drinking then driveing. Its fun and saves money on cabs. I’m also driveing while I’m writeing this comment.

September 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm
(45) Billyboy1994 says:

Well I got breath tested and vomited in the breatheliser And it fncked it right up and got nicked for criminal damage and got to the station I was .2 under the limit lol
How pissed was I haha get it* pissed lol

Don’t drink and drive, smoke and fly xx

September 21, 2013 at 4:46 am
(46) Mark Cogley says:

The guy that said Eat dryer sheets is a moron if gas blood was .333 he would be dead that’s enough to kill 10 people

September 23, 2013 at 8:24 pm
(47) russell says:

Drink warm grapefruit juice. Also to help sober yourself up eat a lot of chocolate. Sugar rush keeps you awake and alert.

September 24, 2013 at 2:36 am
(48) MsOblivious says:

Mark Cogley You’re a clown, .333 isn’t anywhere near enough to kill 10 people! I blew 0.342 on the clubs wall breath tester. I was still standing and thinking about driving ’til I saw the reading but deciding I’d be better catching a taxi.

The highest reading for a driver ever caught is 0.994, in Bulgaria- he was coherent and talking fluently.

October 14, 2013 at 5:52 am
(49) . says:

Hi, for the record I don’t drive under the influence but have done in my younger less responsible days. I dont know why but I have alway passed these tests when going through check point and being pulled over. On the way home from party’s were I have drunk at least a dozen bears, I remember one night were I had three yaga bombs, 4 cocktails and 5 bourbons walked strait out of the club and stupidly got into my car as it had been parked out front all night, driven 10 meters and pulled over thinking they got me this time as I could hardly walk. Blew into the machine and waited by my truck while they went to do there thing. I could hardly stand so leant on the truck to steady myself. They came back and said I was under the limit which equal to 2 standard drinks. And I was free to go. I don’t drink and drive nowadays because I don’t want to kill anybody and luck runs out in someway for most

November 21, 2013 at 3:15 am
(50) Anonymous says:

You are a rubbish for giving the alcoholic pigs a way to get past a test. Shame on you.

November 22, 2013 at 7:32 am
(51) bigbrotherwatchingme says:

I drank the night before my random ua test, and 11hours later i blew a. 017 or something like that, i was arrested and thrown in county for 9days, why was it still in my system? My PO and the deputies thought i had been drinking that morning, i was so humiliated, any help on how much you can drink and still pass the breathalizer if your subject to randoms, like how many hours does alchohal stay in breath enough to be detected by a breathalizer, help please

December 3, 2013 at 8:44 pm
(52) you and i says:

Breathalyzers are computers, with source codes. Source codes have been court ordered to be released to the general public. The source codes are able to be passed to select individuals, who are then able to bypass the system, and drive drunk with a pending DUI. Discuss.

December 10, 2013 at 1:57 pm
(53) Dude says:

I think the limits too low, i enjoy a few cold ones after a hard days graft. Dont get me wrong go after the people who abuse it ( the minority ) but give the hard working majority a break.

December 14, 2013 at 8:30 am
(54) Beat v Test says:

I am very good at holding my drink, and managed to get my test up to .45, and just convinced the cops the machine was broken, because i could still talk / drive / act sober.

December 21, 2013 at 3:25 am
(55) Jackson says:

Only way to truly and honestly beat the police enforce breathalyzer is to drink fabric softener. Only 2 take spoons but it works. Better than spending 4000 in the process of a dui.

January 2, 2014 at 12:19 am
(56) Damo says:

<h2>Rinse you mouth with water first if you can to get rid of any residual in your mouth then take a huge breath and blow gently. The longer the air is in your lungs the more alcohol will defuse into it so try and take a deep, sharp breath just before you blow.

Another way is to use an alcaseltzer. Stick it in your mouth just before the cop comes to your window and when it starts foaming pretend you’re having an epileptic fit.</h2>

January 3, 2014 at 11:37 am
(57) Lady T says:

I. took My breathyzer. and i had drank some mouth wash then i blew 08 then blew again04 i had the mouth wash then i blew 000 three hours period

January 6, 2014 at 7:29 pm
(58) Jim says:

I’ve heard that if you opt to take the blood test instead of the breathalyzer it could get you out of a DUI in some instances. I’ve heard it can take up to 1-3 hours to get down to the station or a medical facility and have a phlebotomist draw your blood, WHICH MEANS…..you can drop about .01 alcohol every 40 minutes. If it took 3 hours. that’s like going from a .11 to a .07 and you are home free. If you think you are right on the line (.08) it could mean a .07 in as little as 30 mins. (Has anyone done this before?

January 12, 2014 at 10:31 am
(59) Gregg says:

For all you diabetes sufferers out there read this, and read this even I your not.
It will blow you away

http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/files/Hypoglycemia-Acetone-and-Breathalyzer-Results.html#.UtKZZqyIrIU

February 14, 2014 at 4:50 am
(60) Jay says:

You beat a breathalyzer test by punching and kicking a few times. That’s how I beat things and it’s very affective.

February 17, 2014 at 9:31 pm
(61) Stuart McKever says:

You might have more chance of passing if you could spell the word – breathalyser (breath and analyse + er)

February 18, 2014 at 8:38 am
(62) Mir says:

Jim,
Yes I was stopped by the police after I slept a couple of hours after drinking beer and woke up to pick up a family member from a night at the club. When I was told to use the breathalyzer it gave 0.08, since they wanted me to take the blood test when the results came it was 0.07. So yes this saved me a one year driving suspension to a 3 months suspension. I bow never again ever to drink and drive.

February 21, 2014 at 4:39 pm
(63) Colby says:

Eat a couple cigarettes worked for me

February 28, 2014 at 4:00 pm
(64) deano says:

silcone in ur mouth cancels n does break the machine. u just have to have a tube of silicone in your car?

March 21, 2014 at 8:51 pm
(65) TYLER RALEIGH says:

Nobody understands the penny myth to pass a breathalyzer. It has nothing to do with the penny’s metal messing up the tester, u r supposed to put the penny over the hole that u blow into when givin the test. Simple minds people. Come on.

April 7, 2014 at 4:48 am
(66) marky says:

pretend to have chest pains and demand an abulance so cant blow into test and then say you are a jehova witness so cant have a blood test

April 12, 2014 at 4:36 am
(67) Ludo Watson says:

Dear Juios Sinders

Its Pedanticism

April 15, 2014 at 12:41 am
(68) BAHAHA says:

pedanticism

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