There are many myths about tricking a breathalyzer into believing a person hasn't been drinking.
In short, beating a car breathalyzer, formally known as an ignition interlock device (IID), is nearly impossible.
How does an IID work?
An IID is a breathalyzer installed into a vehicle usually after a person is convicted of drunk driving. It works to prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds a pre-determined level. Before a driver can start the engine, they must blow into the device. The technology then measures and records the data. If the driver's BAC is higher than the pre-set level, the vehicle won't start.
The data is is logged and periodically reviewed by the court and probation officers assigned to the driver.
California will expand statewide a pilot program on Jan. 1, 2019 requiring all drunk driving offenders to use an IID. Currently, Sacramento is one of the four counties under the pilot program which launched in 2010.
Most IIDs function with sophisticated technology, so tricking a device isn't easy.
Here are some popular myths:
1. Have a friend blow into the IID.
While this may initially start a car, most devices used today feature a camera, which records who is blowing into it. Additionally, IIDs have a "rolling re-test" that require the driver to blow in intervals while driving. The vehicle will honk the horn and flash its lights while on the road to alert law enforcement if a person's BAC is higher than it should be. This prevents the driver from drinking while behind the wheel and from driving if another person has started the vehicle for them.
2. Mask the alcohol by eating food or mints.
Masking the odor of alcohol doesn't mask the alcohol content level. Onions, garlic, breath mints and mouthwash doesn't trick an IID into detecting less alcohol in your body. Also, many mouthwashes contain alcohol, so it's not the best decision for someone trying to fake a lower alcohol level.
3. Use compressed air, such as air from a balloon.
IIDs have temperature and air gauges to control this attempt in tampering with the system. Some devices require a person to inhale or hum to make sure the air is coming from a human.
4. Consume caffeine.
While caffeine may help make a person more alert, it doesn't change the alcohol content level.
5. Temporarily remove the IID.
An IID is installed by a trained specialist and even if a driver knows how to remove the device, the data records a removal or an attempt and would be logged as violation of terms.
Instead of trying to trick an IID, the best thing to do is to not drink and drive.