Q: Is it possible to beat a Breathalyzer by sucking on a penny?
A: No, State Patrol trooper Keith Trowbridge said.
Other techniques to bust the Breathalyzer, such as sucking a battery and eating loads of protein, also are urban legends, authorities say.
Created in 1954, Breathalyzers estimate blood-alcohol content by measuring the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath.
A common version of the penny rumor works on the premise that the copper mixes with alcohol in the drunken drivers’ mouth and causes the Breathalyzer to malfunction, showing a ridiculously high reading.
Here’s the catch: Since 1982, United States pennies have been made with a zinc core. Only the plating – 2.5 percent of the penny – is copper.
Previously, pennies were made primarily with copper. But Trowbridge said the trick still doesn’t work with the old coins.
Before giving a drunken driver a Breathalyzer, troopers check the mouth to make sure there’s nothing that could skew the results. “Then,” Trowbridge said, “we start a 15- minute observation before administering the test.”