We've all heard anecdotal tales on how to get out of a DUI. Whether it was a friend at the country club or a business associate at conference, everyone has their theory on how to beat the system, fool the police and trick the machines.
Unfortunately, none of these easy-outs are true. Let's debunk five of these "surefire" ways to avoid a DUI arrest:
Myth 1: Suck on a penny.
Putting a penny in your mouth before blowing into the Breathalyzer machine will not produce a lower blood alcohol concentration reading. The "copper" in the penny will not cause the machine to give you a passing result. Even if the copper (or zinc, if the penny was made after 1982) could trick the machine into giving a false negative, which it can't, the Breathalyzer uses deep lung air rather than mouth air for its analysis.
It's better to save that penny for a sunny day.
Myth 2: Use breath spray.
There are two myths here. First, that the breath spray will mask the scent of alcohol, thereby fooling the police officer into focusing only on your amazingly minty breath rather than the unmistakable smell of breath alcohol.
Second, if you use breath spray with alcohol in it, you can use that as a defense to the DUI charge, arguing that the positive Breathalyzer reading was caused by the alcohol in the breath spray, not by alcohol you had consumed.
Neither of these tricks tend to work. Police are well-trained in DUI matters and the smell of breath spray is unlikely to throw them off. And, as mentioned above, the Breathalyzer is calibrated to ignore mouth alcohol (such as breath spray) and sample only deep lung air. (Although Breathalyzers certainly aren't foolproof by any means; indeed, an experienced DUI attorney may be able to attack the accuracy of a test result in a DUI case.)
Myth 3: Pass the field sobriety tests.
It's only human nature to think, "If I pass the field sobriety tests, the cop will let me go!" Sadly, that belief is incorrect on a couple of fronts. Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are not 100 percent reliable. In fact, one study concluded that FSTs have up to a 46 percent false positive rate.
Even if you do well on most of the FSTs, the police know that these tests are subject to attack in court. As such, they will usually have you take a blood or breath test regardless of how well you do on the FSTs.
Myth 4: Drive very carefully.
If you drive carefully and obey all traffic laws (no speeding, no swerving, etc.), you won't get caught driving under the influence, right? Not necessarily.
In Florida, sobriety checkpoints are legal and your vehicle can be stopped at random, regardless of how well you are driving. The locations of these checkpoints are random and designed to weed out intoxicated drivers and subject them to sobriety tests. And in Florida, these random sobriety checkpoints are conducted between 15 and 20 times per month.
Myth 5: Tell the officer you only had two beers.
"I swear, officer, I only had two beers." (Insert police officer eye roll here.) Police are not going to believe a person when they say they had only a few drinks - especially if they were stopped for breaking traffic laws or swerving. And saying something like this can actually hurt your DUI case.
First, you are admitting to drinking. Even though it's an admission to a small amount, it's still an admission to drinking and this can give the officer probable cause to administer a breath test.
Second, it is never a good idea to lie to the police. It may result in an additional charge for obstruction of justice. In a situation like this, it is best to say as little as possible and keep in mind your constitutional right to remain silent.
As you can see, there is no surefire way to get out of a DUI. Plan ahead before you drink and drive, and, as always, call a qualified DUI lawyer if you or a loved one is charged with driving under the influence.