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Drink Drive Myth Buster (Parts 1 -4)

Nov 27, 2013

If you put your tongue in the end of the pipe as you blow the machine won’t pick up the alcohol in your breath

Actually this is true it won’t! But the modern machines have software in them that detect the pressure in the tube to check that you are blowing hard enough and for long enough. So instead of being charged with drink drive and receiving a minimum 12 month ban you will be charged with failing to provide a specimen of breath and will face a minimum 18 month ban. 

If you only drink a couple of pints of lager you won’t be over.

As you drink you absorb the alcohol from your stomach into your blood. It typically takes 20 minutes for it all to be absorbed. Different lagers can contain between 3% alcohol to 13% alcohol by volume. The legal limit is set at 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. This means the more blood you have the more the alcohol is diluted. A rough guide is 1 pint per stone in weight. If you are fat the percentage of water in your body is likely to be lower for your weight so there is less dilution. Your body disposes of the alcohol as it is a poison at a rate between 10 and 24 units per hour, this rate differs from person to person.

Are you following this? I often instruct experts to calculate what a clients reading would have been at a particular time, after four hours of work on the clients weight, height, what they had for dinner etc etc the best you will ever get is a range, if they can’t work it out what chance do you have?

Two pints of lager can take you over, it’s not worth the risk for a 12 month ban or worse if you have an accident.

If you put copper coins in your mouth the alcohol doesn’t show up on the breath test machine and you will get away with it.

I have seen this one attempted, not one copper coin but a mouthful! Whilst I know it doesn’t work I had to ask the expert that I use, the basis of this. The truth is you don’t need a coin at all, you certainly don’t want it in your mouth for any time before you blow as it is the cooling effect on the breath which reduces the alcohol reading. A very cold object such as a cold coin, ice cube, or even a mouthful of cold water just before blowing will reduce the reading  (if the police let you)…… but only by as much as 1 or 2. The legal limit is 35 in breath and most drink drive charges I see are 70 plus.

I wouldn’t have been over but for taking the cough medicine/ mouth wash/ eating the Tiramisu/ it was the alcohol in the malt vinegar on my fish and chips (yes really it has been tried) etc.

The first point is that drink drive is a strict liability offence, this means that if your blood alcohol is over the limit and you are driving you are guilty, whether you knew or not. You may be able to avoid a ban if the evidence supports that you would not have been over but for the…..

Mouth wash often contains 20% alcohol (but you are not supposed to swallow it), cough medicines can contain up to 20 % alcohol, Tiramisu/Sherry Trifle rarely contains more than 5%. The point with all these things is that when you use them you take very small amounts. You might have to drink a pint of cough medicine to be over, you would have more to worry about from the life threatening effect of all the paracetamol rather than a drink drive conviction. Vinegar can contain alcohol but your body converts it into a substance that the breath machines are programmed to ignore (and how much vinegar do you put on your chips!)


The likely consequence of swallowing a mouth wash or cough medicine is an increase in your breath reading of 2 or 3.


Pete Dodd

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Pete Dodd

Pete joined Nockolds in 2004 as a Partner within the Family Team. Before joining the firm Pete graduated from Bristol University with a degree in ...

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