How to Fool the Breathalyzer
Information courtesy of Lawrence Taylor - DUIblog
Want to trick that breath machine into a false reading? Not that difficult: just vary your breathing pattern.
As Ive indicated in earlier posts, these breath machines which determine guilt or innocence in DUI cases are not exactly the reliable devices that law enforcement would have us believe. Yet another example of that unreliability is the fact that the results will vary depending upon the breathing pattern of the person being tested. This has been confirmed in a number of scientific studies. In one, for example, a group of men drank moderate doses of alcohol and their blood-alcohol levels were then measured by gas chromatographic analysis of their breath. The breathing techniques were then varied.
The results indicated that holding your breath for 30 seconds before exhaling increased the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) by 15.7%. Hyperventilating for 20 seconds immediately before the analyses of breath, on the other hand, decreased the blood-alcohol level by 10.6%. Keeping the mouth closed for five minutes and using shallow nasal breathing resulted in increasing the BAC by 7.3%, and testing after a slow, 20-second exhalation increased levels by 2%. "How Breathing Techniques Can Influence the Results of Breath-Alcohol Analyses", 22(4) Medical Science and the Law 275. For another study with similar findings, see "Accurate Measurement of Blood Alcohol Concentration with Isothermal Breathing", 51(1) Journal of Studies on Alcohol 6.
Dr. Michael Hlastala, Professor of Physiology, Biophysics and Medicine at the University of Washington has gone farther and concluded:
"By far, the most overlooked error in breath testing for alcohol is the pattern of breathing....The concentration of alcohol changes considerably during the breath...The first part of the breath, after discarding the dead space, has an alcohol concentration much lower than the equivalent BAC. Whereas, the last part of the breath has an alcohol concentration that is much higher than the equivalent BAC. The last part of the breath can be over 50% above the alcohol level....Thus, a breath tester reading of 0.14% taken from the last part of the breath