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Can I Beat a Breathalyzer?

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on May 04, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

From sucking on pennies to chewing gum, there are a lot of urban legends purporting to share proven ways by which a person can beat a breathalyzer.

Guess what?

None of them are true.

The fact is that breathalyzers measure the concentration of alcohol in your breath--that is, the amount of evaporated alcohol in the air that you expel while breathing.

Sucking or chewing on a substance will only change the way your breath smells, not its alcohol concentration. Chugging water won't work either, as the alcohol being measured has already made its way through your bloodstream into the tissues in your lungs.

With the myths out the window, the only thing you can do to beat a breathalyzer is to utilize scientific evidence.

It's possible to challenge a breathalyzer in court by showing that the device was not properly calibrated or up to date. It's also possible to show that it was impacted by air and body temperatures, substances in the air, or a medical condition that causes a body to produce more alcohol-secreting bacteria.

Defendants may also be able to challenge a breathalyzer's accuracy, showing that a particular machine or brand is unreliable. This has been done successfully, leading some states to throw out hundreds of DUI convictions.

However, it's important to keep in mind that the likelihood that you will successfully beat a breathalyzer is incredibly slim, as they are generally recognized as sufficient evidence of driving under the influence.

But should you decide that you were the victim of an unreliable breathalyzer, do yourself a favor and call an attorney. You're going to need a lot of help.

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