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Debunking Some Port St. Lucie DUI Myths


Driving Under the Influence is one of the most commonly-charged criminal offenses in the Treasure Coast. In fact, in some jurisdictions, half the county’s probationers were arrested for DUI. So, it is little wonder that there are so many myths out there about the Breathalyzer and other DUI aspects.

These self-help defenses may not do any good, but an assertive attorney can make a tremendous difference in a Port St. Lucie DUI case. The burden of proof is so high in these cases (beyond a reasonable doubt) that everything must go perfectly for the prosecutor. If there is any serious anomaly, that’s usually enough to at least get the charges or sentence reduced.

Penny Suck

The Breathalyzer is a delicate device. It measures breath alcohol levels to estimate blood alcohol levels. So, if any part of the sample is off, there may be a snowball effect. The defect becomes larger as the chemical process drags on.

That’s probably the genesis of the penny suck defense. Copper does disrupt the chemical process and could skew the results. So “if you’ve been drinkin’ then suck on Lincoln,” right? Perhaps not. Pennies have almost no copper in them. They are mostly zinc and other cheap metals. So, to affect the test, a person would have to suck on an awful lot of pennies.

Beer Chug

In 2012, a Florida defendant tried this tactic. After being detained on suspicion of DUI after a fatal crash, the man went to a nearby convenience store and started drinking a beer. He hoped to defeat the Breathalyzer by flooding his mouth with alcohol particles.

This trick has some merit. Mouth alcohol can affect the test result. If the defendant burps or belches in the fifteen minutes prior to the test, the Breathalyzer may mistake the mouth alcohol for deep-lung alcohol.

But the mouth alcohol effect is only worth considering in borderline BAC cases, such as a .08 or .09. Moreover, prosecutors can account for a beer chug with multiple subsequent Breathalyzer tests. They can then use the results to estimate the defendant’s BAC level while driving. Finally, pulling a stunt like this one is basically a confession, and some jurors may take a very dim view of people who defy the police officer and drink beer.

That 2012 defendant wound up pleading guilty, so there is no way to know if the defense would have worked in that situation.

Coffee and Gum

Chewing gum or breath mints mask the odor of alcohol, but they do nothing to change the chemical composition of air particles. Coffee helps people feel more awake, but it does not erase the effects of intoxication. Only time does that.

Nevertheless, coffee and gum may impact probable cause for the test. Caffeine may ease erratic driving, and as mentioned, gum eliminates the odor of alcohol. However, law enforcement officers can rely on other probable cause evidence, such as bloodshot eyes or the defendant’s admission of prior alcohol consumption.

Join Forces with Experienced Lawyers

Some Breathalyzer myths make some sense, but they have little or no impact on test results. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We routinely handle matters all along the Treasure Coast area.



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