Sucking on a penny and other myths about beating a DUI

By Jonathan Blecher on March 6, 2023

Spend any time in a bar or campsite, and you’re bound to hear all kinds of rumors, theories and “true stories that happened to a friend of someone’s uncle” about how you can pass a Breathalyzer test even after having a few drinks.

These kinds of urban legends may make for good conversation but very bad advice. Here’s the reality:

Sucking on a penny won’t change your BAC reading

A Breathalyzer device measures your blood alcohol content through the molecules in your breath, and there’s been a long-standing rumor that the copper in a penny somehow skews the results (in the driver’s favor, of course). Not only is this completely not grounded in reality, but pennies are largely made of zinc these days, not copper.

Another popular myth is that using mouthwash before you take the breath test will also help – but that could actually increase your problems. Many mouthwashes and sprays are actually made with alcohol – and some have more alcohol content than the average beer! If you swish that around in your mouth surreptitiously before the officer gets to your car, you may cause your BAC reading to be erroneously high.

Finally, there’s another rumor that says you can lower a BAC reading by hyperventilating or doing vigorous exercise before you breathe into the device. That may actually be somewhat grounded in science, but you need to consider the fact that no officer is going to passively watch you try to hyperventilate or do a bunch of quick pushups on the ground and then let you take a breath test. You’ll simply be made to wait until the test can be taken without interference.

Whether you’re a retiree who is spending the winter in Florida, a college student on spring break or a local who lives here full time, a drunk driving conviction has the potential to radically upset your life. Find out more about how you can really defeat DUI charges – using the law and common sense, not fictions.

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