Nugget of Knowledge: Breathalyzer myths

The old breathalyzer was based on a chemical reaction which was prone to error

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Can you beat a breathalyzer test by sucking on a penny?

The theory is that holding a penny in your mouth or sucking it can produce a good reading by interfering with your mouth’s saliva composition. The zinc and copper of the penny are supposed to neutralize the alcohol.

But, no, it doesn’t work.

Other tricks included rapid exercise, eating food or drinking coffee, crunching a bunch of breath mints and taking short or fast breaths.

The old breathalyzers worked by measuring a chemical reaction based on alcohol, so that led to all these suggestions.

Breathalyzers today come with an infrared light that changes in intensity based on how much alcohol is in your mouth. The breathalyzer’s light passes through your breath, which will change the intensity of the light. The more alcohol, the more it changes and the drunker you are.

It’s complicated for a little machine, but it was re-invented because it’s hard, if not impossible, to fool.

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