Before we get started, let’s all remind ourselves that nobody should drink and drive.  For whatever reason though, myths about how to fool the breathalyzer and breath tests generally are popular stuff.  But the thing is, almost all of these myths are just that: myths, stories people made up to have something to talk about.

The only way to be sure to pass a breathalyzer test is to not drink alcohol before taking one.  Some of the supposed methods of fooling the test though are

  • eating breath mints
  • sucking on a penny
  • eating garlic
  • eating onions
  • eating mustard (the yellow stuff, not greens)
  • swallowing chewing tobacco
  • having salted peanuts in your mouth, and
  • chewing activated charcoal.

What all of these myths ignore is how breathalyzers actually work and how the test is actually administered.  They just involve guesswork about how you would think a breathalyzer would work.  You might think:”I can smell the alcohol on someone’s breath, and if someone is chewing mints, I cannot smell as much alcohol.  Thus, chewing mints must change the breathalyzer reading.”  That simply isn’t the case though. Breathalyzers, both the main unit at the police statioin and the portable handheld kind used by arresting officers, work by detecting the presence of alcohol in the breath.  They do this through chemical reactions that result in a color change in a liquid (the ones at the station) or an increase in electrical charge (the ones in the field).

Whether you have extraneous chemicals in your breath is irrelevant to the mechanism of the test.

A couple variables that individuals can affect do change the results of the tests though.  Since all breath tests rely on the amount of alcohol in the breath, and your lungs contain a good deal of breath, the approimate amount of alcohol contained in that air can be changed briefly by you. If you hold your breath for a long time before blowing, your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) reading will be slighyly higher (more time for alcohol to get into that breath).  If you hyperventilate before blowing, the BAC reading will be slightly lower.  Of course, you should just take this as a fun fact because the effect of hyperventilating before a breath test is relatively small, driving under the influence is dangerous, and the consequences of a DUI conviction are severe.

The DUI attorneys of Reeves Aiken & Hightower LLP are experts in DUI and are ready to fight for you. We encourage you to visit our website at and compare our attorneys’ credentials to any other firm. You can then call us toll-free at 877-374-5999 for a private, confidential consultation to review your particular case.