Have you heard that holding a penny in your mouth when you take a Breathalyzer can “fool” the machine into a negative result? Supposedly, the copper in the penny creates a chemical reaction with the alcohol in your mouth and neutralizes it.
It’s a surprisingly common urban legend that gets repeated around bars and family tables – but it’s entirely fiction. First, copper doesn’t magically neutralize the alcohol molecules. Second, most pennies are primarily made of zinc.
Of course, that’s not the only urban legend you’ll hear when it comes to trying to avoid a drunk driving conviction.
More myths about beating Breathalyzer tests you should know
Whether it’s your co-worker’s brother or your best friend’s cousin that supposedly swears it works, none of these things will actually help you trick your way into a lower blood alcohol content (BAC) reading:
- Eating bread or other starchy foods: This can settle your stomach, but it certainly won’t affect the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream.
- Using mouthwash: This will actually raise your BAC reading. The average glass of wine has only 12% alcohol, while the alcohol in mouthwash can hit a whopping 26.9%.
- Burping: This is supposed to cause the air to bypass your lungs and come directly from your stomach – an idea that doesn’t actually make anatomical sense.
- Eating mints: This can reduce the odor of alcohol on your breath and make it less noticeable, but it won’t affect the BAC reading.
- Putting a battery in your mouth: This is another version of the penny trick, and it’s an actual choking hazard with no potential benefit.
- Hyperventilating: Done correctly, this can potentially reduce your BAC reading – but there’s no way that an officer isn’t going to notice what you’re doing. You’ll just be instructed to retake the Breathalyzer test properly.
- Swallowing paper or paper towels: Like bread or starch, this is supposed to soak up the alcohol in your stomach. That still won’t alter a Breathalyzer reading.
Everybody makes mistakes, and a lapse in judgment shouldn’t affect your entire future. If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, find out how an experienced defense can help.