How to Beat a Breathalyzer And YouTube — A Bad Combination

We’ve learned a lot of things on YouTube. That immensely useful site is where we found videos explaining how to make a Big Mac, how to drive a Model T Ford, and, given its vital importance to humanity, many videos on how to teach your cat to high-five.

However – and you might need to brace yourself for this – not every scrap of information on YouTube is accurate. Our example today is a video entitled How to Beat a Breathalyzer Test.

If you were  to believe what you see, you’d believe that a young woman was doing this:

  1. Testing her sobriety first and registering 0.0
  2. Downing three shots of vodka
  3. Waiting 20 minutes
  4. Testing at .045
  5. Eating 1 spoon of peanut butter and a similar amount of jelly
  6. Drinking a glass of water
  7. Testing at 0.0

You’d then accept some information supplied regarding the sodium content of peanut butter, and how it reacts with the alcohol to evaporate it.

Why How to Beat a Breathalyzer is Bogus

The problem is that it’s not true, and can also result in a much bigger problem. A breathalyzer doesn’t measure the alcohol in your mouth; it measures the alcohol (ethanol) in your breath, which comes straight from your lungs. Ethanol is a molecule which can slip through all kinds of membranes and end up anywhere in your body. So alcohol in your blood moves to your lungs. An equation is used to correlate the amount of alcohol in the blood and the related amount that ends up on the breath.   This is how the interlock measures your BrAC.

So then why did the breathalyzer measure 0.0 after one spoon of peanut butter?

Here’s a possible guess: the vodka bottle in the video contained nothing but water. One of the cups might have had a very small amount of alcohol – enough to register on the breathalyzer. Afterwards, the glass of water she drank, combined with the food, cleaned her mouth of that trace alcohol.

What we can’t figure out is why the video was made, other than for the stated purpose of entertainment. If you in fact tried to tamper with or circumvent (fool) the ignition interlock, you would be subject to additional sanctions.  A list of those can be found here, on the National Council of State Legislatures website.

The lesson here is that breathalyzers and ignition interlocks – devices based on breathalyzers which prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking – are based on science and have been tested and improved for years.  If you are required to provide a breath sample to an IID, know that the consequence for trying to beat it — with peanut butter or anything else — is one you should be trying to avoid.