Can You Beat a Breathalyzer Test?

Man blowing into breathalyzer

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A Breathalyzer is a device used to determine blood alcohol concentration (BAC) by measuring the amount of alcohol in a sample of your breath. Have you ever wondered whether it's possible to beat a Breathalyzer test? There are several ideas that have been tried and tested and found to either not help or even cause you to test ​​higher—and one way that has been shown to lower your breath alcohol level.

Things That May Worsen Your Breathalyzer Test Results

Let's start with a list of things you can do to make your breath extra alcoholic. Try these if you want to be ticketed or jailed.

  • Applying breath spray before the test. Many of these contain alcohol. In fact, if you spray Binaca into your mouth before the test, you could potentially achieve an apparent BAC of 0.8, which is well above the legal limit for alcohol. It's also worth noting that some of these products will give you a false positive up to 20 minutes after using them.
  • Using mouthwash. Again, many of these products contain alcohol. For example, Listerine is about 27% alcohol. Similarly, some breath mints contain sugar alcohols.
  • Chasing your hardcore booze with a Zima. Apparently, some people think Zima is nonalcoholic or somehow absorbs the alcohol you have already imbibed. No, on both counts.
  • Belching into the Breathalyzer. Now this one is based on the idea that gas from your stomach will contain less alcohol than gas from your lungs. Although it sounds good in theory, in practice your burp will give you a similar or even higher Breathalyzer test result than simply breathing into the device.
  • Holding your breath. If you hold your breath you allow more time for alcohol to diffuse into your lungs, increasing the apparent BAC as measured by a Breathalyzer by up to 15%.

Things That Will Not Help You Pass a Breathalyzer Test

While these actions won't worsen your test results, they won't lower your apparent BAC in a Breathalyzer test.

  • Eating feces or your underwear. We have no idea why this is supposed to help, and yes, people have tried it.
  • Chewing gum.
  • Sucking on pennies. Apparently, this myth has something to do with a purported reaction between copper and alcohol. Even if this were true, pennies consist primarily of zinc.

How to Beat a Breathalyzer Test

The one action you can take that will reduce your apparent BAC on the Breathalyzer test is to hyperventilate before taking the test. What you are doing here is replacing the alcoholic gas in your lungs with as much fresh air as possible. While this will reduce your BAC test value by up to 10%, you'll still test positive for alcohol. If you're near a limit, you might be able to beat the test. If you're seriously drunk, all you're likely to do is make yourself dizzy so you can fail all of the other tests, such as walking a line or touching your finger to your nose.


  • Ainsworth, Mitchell, C. "Science and the Detective." The American Journal of Police Science, Northwestern University, vol. 3, no. 2, March/April 1932, pp. 169-182.
  • Bogen, E. "The Diagnosis of Drunkenness—A Quantitative Study of Acute Alcoholic Intoxication." Cal West Med, vol. 26, no. 6, June 1927, pp. 778-783.
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Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Can You Beat a Breathalyzer Test?" ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2021, February 16). Can You Beat a Breathalyzer Test? Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Can You Beat a Breathalyzer Test?" ThoughtCo. (accessed June 4, 2023).