Breathalyser Myths

by Vivien Mah    

Breathalyser Myths

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the fundamentals of breathalysers. This is quite unfortunate considering they are potentially life saving. It’s time to set the record straight and bust some of the biggest breathalyser urban legends.


Myth: Breath fresheners, breath mints, and mouthwash can mask alcohol and/or lower BAC readings.

It seems the talk at the office water cooler hasn’t changed much in the last twenty years. People continue to perpetuate the ridiculous myth that a pack of Hall’s or quick swish of mouthwash can flush away any worries about getting “busted” on a roadside test. These substances merely mask the odour of alcohol but fail to affect the alcohol percentage in an individual’s breath.

Mouthwash may actually work against you considering many brands have substantial alcohol content, therefore increasing the amount of alcohol in your breath rather than reducing it.

Additionally, breathalysers can be sensitive to methyl alcohol (e.g. paint thinner), isopropanol (e.g. aftershave), carbon monoxide, and diethyl ether. Therefore, waiting 15-20 minutes after exposure to these agents should result in a more compliant test.


Myth: You can beat a breathalyser test by sucking on a penny or piece of garlic.

One of the more bizarre urban legends is the claim that sucking on a penny will negate the results of a breathalyser test. This is just one of the many naturopathic myths with no scientific rationale. Holding a piece of garlic under your tongue sounds more superstitious than scientific.


Myth: Holding your breath, hyperventilating, and exercising can beat a breathalyser test

Many people believe that holding your breath can work in your favor during a breathalyser test. While this may sound plausible in theory, the reality is it won’t affect the test results.

In fact, breathalysers can detect air flow and will sound a notification if no breath sample is detected from the mouthpiece.

Therefore, by holding your breath you will just be letting the officer know that you are trying to trick the breathalyser.

Additionally, hyperventilating and exercising to “sweat out the alcohol” will not make much of a difference to your BAC result so if you are drunk and have been caught, you can’t do much to beat the breath test.


Myth: Breathalysers don’t work as well on smokers as they do on non-smokers.

It’s understandable why many people mistakenly believe that breathalysers are less effective at detecting alcohol content in the breath of smokers. After all, it’s common knowledge that the Tobacco industry laces cigarettes with thousands of chemicals.

This value engineering is not only profitable but makes their products infinitely more addictive than tobacco in its pure form.

While acetaldehyde can interfere with the accuracy of conventional breathalyser readings, Andatech fuel cell sensors are sensitive enough to distinguish this compound from the actual alcohol content present in an individual’s breath.


Myth: Breathalyser results can be used in court

In Australia, breathalysers are used as a preliminary roadside screening tool during a Random Roadside Breath Test (RBT) to help law enforcement officers assess a driver suspected of drink driving.

Breath test results can help an officer determine if the suspect is over 0.05, but is not always admissible in court. That is why most RBT’s have a booze bus nearby (or suspects are taken to the nearest police station) for suspects to take an evidential test.

For the evidential test, law enforcement officers may use an Infrared Sensor Breathalyser or Spectrometer for a more accurate alcohol test (read more about this on How Breathalysers Work), or medical staff may use a blood test, which is the most accurate method to test for BAC.


The truth about breathalysers

Instead of trying to beat the system, it only makes sense to use the breathalyser to your advantage.

Your own personal breathalyser will help you avoid any foolish decisions and potentially save you thousands in fines, prison time, or bail. While it is a priceless preventative safety measure for you and your friends, it’s imperative that you bear in mind that breathalyzer results are not always 100% accurate.

When investing in a breathalyser, it’s important to remember that the quality of these products varies substantially. These discrepancies are largely due to the fact that products branded for novelty or “fun” use employ a cheaper technology. In most cases, the personal breathalysers use the older semiconductor technology that are not serviceable through regular calibrations.

In contrast, the professional quality devices harness the power of advanced fuel cell sensors. This enables them to garner much more accurate, alcohol-specific readings.

While one may be tempted to point fingers at the manufacturers, it’s important to remember that you get what you pay for. For all the freedoms that we enjoy in a free market society, it’s not unreasonable to assume that we are solely responsible for our own drinking habits.

Nonetheless, technological and consumer demand has led to a slow but steady decrease in the cost of fuel cell powered breathalysers, making this technology more and more affordable and accessible to the public.

If you’re ready to take responsibility into your own hands instead of finding ways to beat a police breathalyser test, browse our range of personal breathalysers today.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general reference only. Please seek advice from professionals according to your needs.