Drink driving: the facts

Recently ex-rugby player JPR Williams was convicted of drink driving. The police arresting Williams explained how the former Welsh International tried to fool the breathalyser by sucking on a penny.

We’ve all heard the urban myth that the copper in a penny can trick the breathalyser into giving a false reading. Unfortunately for JPR Williams, it is not true.

The fact remains the only way of guaranteeing a negative breathalyser result is by not drinking and driving. The current Labour Government has even proposed a lower drink-drive limit to bring the UK in line with Europe.

The current limit is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood and the proposed new limit would be just 50mg – or less than one pint of beer.

If the new law does come in, there is bound to be an increase in people trying to ‘avoid’ a correct breathalyser reading. Recently Alcosense released a list of myths – and the reality behind them. Below we discuss five of them.

1) Suck on a penny.

As Alcosense points out, the JPR Williams case shows this doesn’t work. Pennies do not ‘react’ with saliva to give a lower reading. You will find it is generally a friend of a friend this has worked for…

2) Coffee.

A recent study in the journal Behavioural Neuroscience suggests coffee simply gives the illusion you are sobering up because it is a stimulant.

Lead researcher Dr Thomas Gould said: “The myth about coffee’s sobering powers is particularly important to debunk because the co-use of caffeine and alcohol could actually lead to poor decisions with disastrous outcomes.

In fact, coffee has no effect at all on alcohol being absorbed into the blood.

3) MintsMouth spray.

Mints and mouth spray simply hide the smell of alcohol on the breath. The amount of alcohol in your breath will remain the same. Some breath sprays are even alcohol-based and can give higher readings.

4) Holding your breath before the test.

This will actually result in a higher reading. This is because the air in your lungs (with alcohol in) will remain in there while your breath is held. It will also make you look a bit silly.

5) Drinking Water

The breathalyser measures alcohol in your lungs, therefore drinking water has no effect on the test. It might be a good idea for the hangover though, which is bound to be made worse when you wake up in a police cell.

The conclusion? Instead of magic methods to trick a breathalyser, simply don’t drink and drive.