How to trick an Alcohol Breath Analyser:
Alcohol breath analysers commonly known as breathalysers have been used by police on New Zealand roads for decades. Since their introduction, the death toll on our roads from drink driving has dropped dramatically. Despite this, some people still choose to drink and drive. This risks not only their own lives but the lives of others as well.
Today’s alcohol breath analysers are highly technical devices. However, people have been trying to come up with ways to trick breathalysers for as long as they have been used on our roads.
Sucking on a copper coin
This myth has been doing the rounds for many years. There are two trains of thought on this. Firstly, that the copper in the coin is supposed to “neutralise” the alcohol in your mouth. The second theory is that the copper puts a coating on the inside of your mouth that confuses the alcohol breath analyser. These will both apparently give you a lower BAC reading.
Unfortunately for this myth, the breathalyser takes breath from the lungs not the mouth. Even if the breath did come from the mouth, the copper would have no effect on alcohol levels. The metal used in currency does not contain enough actual copper. There is also no “coating” created by putting a coin in your mouth. Additionally, the police officer would also surely notice the coin and require you to spit it out.
Breath freshener or mints
Another common myth is that by taking a swig of mouthwash or sucking a mint will confuse the device. Modern alcohol breath analysers are not affected in any way by minty fresh breath. In fact, as some mouthwash contains alcohol, it may actually increase your reading. The only thing that gum, mouthwash, or mints will do is mask the smell of alcohol on your breath.
Mouthwash and some medicines can in some instances give false positives in people who have not been drinking. This Is usually at a very low level however and will generally not affect your driving.
Food to fool an alcohol breath analyser
Eating strong smelling foods such as garlic to fool a breathalyser is another myth. All this will do is give you bad breath. Additionally, it may make you burp. Burps are gas from your stomach which may also contain alcohol which may actually increase your breath test results. Eating food will slow down your metabolism of alcohol. This will slow down it’s absorption in the body. Eventually however, it will all end up in your bloodstream and therefore be able to be tested in your breath.
Eating highly absorbent items has also been touted as a secret weapon against breathalysers. Examples include toilet paper, fabric, charcoal pills, and believe it or not faeces. This is a very silly thing to do as it will likely make you very sick and/or very blocked up. It also will not work. Filling your stomach with absorbent material may soak up some of the alcohol, but it will do nothing for the alcohol already metabolized into your blood stream.
Coffee will also not affect your BAC reading. It may make you feel more sober in the short term but will not influence the alcohol breath analyser.
There is a belief that smoking a cigarette just before a breath test will lower the result. In fact, the opposite is true. This is why a police officer will wait to test you if you have just smoked. When a cigarette burns, the sugars added to the tobacco create a chemical called acetaldehyde. This chemical is what is measured by the newer fuel cell breathalysers. These devices look for how much ethanol has been oxidised into acetaldehyde by the internal electrode. The chemical released into your lungs by the cigarette will likely make your BAC higher.
This chemical is present in the lungs of smokers at a much higher level than non-smokers. This means that some semi-conductor breathalysers may be affected by it. Professional grade breathalysers such as the BACtrack S80 Pro are not influenced by this.
Holding your breath
This is another myth that will not go your way. Holding your breath inside lungs that are full of alcohol will only increase the level of alcohol in your breath. This will give you a higher reading on a breathalyser. Additionally, studies have shown that holding your breath can actually increase your BAC up to 20%.
Hyperventilating or altering your breathing
This is the one myth that actually has some merit. Various studies have been done by different groups. The results show that you can decrease your BAC between 10% up to 23% with hyperventilation or heavy exercise. This can be enough to move someone who is just over the limit to just under it. Hyperventilating can work because you are essentially replacing all the air in your lungs with fresh air very quickly. You need to do the breath alcohol analysis quite quickly however, as this new air will soon pick up the alcohol in your bloodstream and you will have to start over again.
For this system to work, you need to hyperventilate rapidly, then take a deep breath and blow into the Alcohol breath analyser straight away. The downside of this is that the police officer is bound to notice your irregular breathing and you will end up feeling very light headed and maybe a bit foolish. The officer will also likely have you do another test without hyperventilating first.
Not blowing a full breath
Another breathing system that is believed to trick a breathalyser is not breathing out a proper full breath when being tested. The theory is that as the highest alcohol reading is in the deep lung breath, so you stop the breath before reaching this air. By ending your breath early, by slowly tapering it off, you can trick some breathalysers into doing an early reading.
Professional Grade breathalysers such as the BACtrack S80 Pro require a long steady breath. This means that they will register an incomplete reading if the breath is not strong or deep enough. Additionally, the air pump technology in BACtrack Professional grade breathalysers provides an accurate reading with only a small amount of breath. Therefore, this makes them virtually impossible to trick in this way. Even in the breathalysers that can be occasionally tricked by this method, the drop in BAC is only around 0.014%.
How to pass an alcohol breath analyser test
The only way to guarantee that you will pass a breath test every time, is to not drink and drive. If you do plan on drinking, make a plan. For example, have a designated driver, book a cab or an Uber, or stay the night if this is possible. Not only will this keep you and your friends and family safe, it will also prevent you killing or injuring complete strangers all for a fun night out.