News Flash: Faking a Breathalyzer Test Equals Refusing It

faking-is-refusing-a-breath-testIt’s normal to be nervous when a police officer pulls out a breathalyzer and asks you to blow into it – especially if you’ve been drinking. You might be tempted to try something – anything – to fool the cops, if not the device, to get out of the situation.

It doesn’t work.

A man in Framingham, Massachusetts recently crashed his car in front of police officers – a move that generally attracts their attention anyway. And it did. The man, Ronald Thistle, was in t-shirt, shorts, and bare feet despite the zero-degree weather. He failed his sobriety test, and was brought to the station for a breathalyzer test.

At the station the offender allegedly tried to fudge his breathalyzer test. Perhaps he didn’t really blow, but just pretended to, like this fellow in China. Whatever he did, it didn’t work out well for him.

You Can’t Beat a Breathalyzer

Breathalyzers are straightforward devices. They measure the alcohol that gets released from the body via the lungs. An equation matches the amount of alcohol in the breath to the corresponding amount in the bloodstream.

If you don’t blow into it, the device will register a fail.

And by the way, none of the tricks work: pennies, mints, mouthwash (which contains alcohol, duh), onions, or other foods which someone on the Internet said to eat. They’ve been working on these devices for more than 60 years. Those people on Quora aren’t going to cut it.

Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

Apart from the general reliability of breathalyzers, the point to keep in mind is that messing with the breath test is equivalent to refusing a breath test, and refusing a breath test has serious consequences. In most states there’s an immediate penalty which is equivalent to the penalty for drunk driving itself. In Massachusetts those penalties include suspension for 6 months for a first offense, up to lifetime suspension for a third OUI.

The offender in question probably didn’t realize that trying to fake a breath test was tantamount to refusing it. But if you’re reading this, you’ve got that information. So use it well, and don’t drink and drive. And if a police officer does offer you the breathalyzer, think long and hard before refusing it. Consult an attorney for more information on your state’s laws. Hint: none of them look kindly on drivers who refuse breath tests.