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Sucking on a Penny or Mint Will Not Beat a Breath Test

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Wouldn’t it be nice if you could fool breath testing devices when pulled over for a suspected DUI?  An email has been widely forwarded that basically claims that sucking on a penny or a breath mint will help a suspected drunk driver defeat a breath test.  However, this claim is false.

Many people have made the assertion that various substances or objects placed in the mouth can improve the reading on a breathalyzer test.  Some of these items include pennies, Listerine Breath Strips, Icebreakers gum, Binaca spray, Certs, Tic Tacs and Clorets. 

People have claimed that a mouthful of pennies could negate the test because of the presumed copper content.  Pennies held in the mouth in no way lowers the BAC reading on a breath test.  Mints and gum can help cover the scent of alcohol on the breath, which could help if a police officer has pulled you over, but it will not change your BAC results from a breathalyzer.

According to Snopes.com, a man actually tried the penny trick, but it did not work.  When an East Hampton man was pulled over for drunk driving, the police officer found that he was sucking on a penny.  The driver had a slurred speech and couldn’t stand up straight.  He failed all of the standard sobriety tests.

Breath testing equipment uses a ratio when converting alcohol in the breath to alcohol in the blood.  In most states, if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or above, you will be considered to be driving under the influence (or driving while intoxicated).

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