Driving under the influence is a legal offense that has significant consequences beyond personal injury and vehicular damage. Those who receive convictions may lose their license, pay fines or even end up behind bars.
Authorities use various measures to determine if someone is driving while impaired. Despite their frequency, the public has a variety of misunderstandings about these roadside tests.
Misconception 1. Anyone can trick a breath test
One common fallacy is that alcohol detection devices are beatable. Some believe that sucking on a penny, eating strong-smelling food or using mouthwash can change the results. Since these gadgets measure the alcohol content in the breath from one’s lungs and not the mouth, such activities have no effect. Ironically, mouthwash sometimes increases a reading due to its alcohol content.
Misconception 2. Field sobriety tests are easy to pass
Field sobriety tests include a series of physical and cognitive tasks, such as walking in a straight line or reciting the alphabet backward. Some believe these measures are easy to complete for those who are sober. In reality, even those who never drink can fail these tests, especially if they have certain cognitive conditions or bodily limitations.
Misconception 3. Refusing a test means no consequences
Another falsehood is that declining a DUI exam means you cannot get a drunk driving charge. In many places, refusal leads to automatic penalties. For instance, someone declining a test in Maryland will automatically suffer a license suspension between 120 days and a year. Also, opting out can work against a defendant, as the state may use this fact to suggest evidence of impairment.
Misconception 4. Only alcohol affects breath tests
Many think that breath tests exclusively detect alcohol. While meant to measure a person’s blood alcohol level, some nonalcoholic substances and medical conditions can skew the results. For example, people with diabetes might have ketones in their breath, which some testers can misinterpret as alcohol.
Dispelling myths about DUI tests helps protect drivers from decisions that could land them in legal trouble. A bit of knowledge in this department is worth its weight in gold.