According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Every day, 28 people in the United States die in an alcohol-related vehicle crash – that’s one person every 51 minutes.” Then, there’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), whose site says, “Drunk driving is still the #1 cause of death on our roadways.” Thus, it makes sense why MADD believes that one of the best ways to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the roads is to step up law enforcement’s efforts to arrest drunk drivers.
Despite the statistics and the public awareness campaigns about the dangers of drunk driving, there will always be those drivers who claim to have a “high tolerance” for alcohol. They’re convinced that they can “beat” the field sobriety tests, and they think that if they swish a little mouthwash, they can fool an officer and act completely sober, even though they’re anything but. Below, we’re going to clear up some common misconceptions about sobriety tests:
1. Mouthwash can help me beat a breathalyzer test.
Sorry, but breathalyzers can’t be fooled by fresh breath. They measure the alcohol level in a person’s breath, and no amount of alcohol or breath mints can reduce that reading. In fact, an officer who notices that you just swigged mouthwash may take that as an indication that you’re trying to mask the smell of alcohol on your breath.
2. Coffee and energy drinks can sober me up.
No amount of caffeine will sober you up. Whether you’re drinking vodka and Red Bull or chasing six beers with a strong cup of black coffee, the only thing that the caffeine will do is “trick” you into thinking you’re sober. What you’ll actually be is a “wide awake” drunk!
Time is the only thing that can help sober you up, so don’t be fooled into thinking that coffee or an energy drink will make you perform better on a field sobriety test.
3. Sucking on a penny will fool a breathalyzer.
There’s an urban legend that sucking on a (copper) penny will confuse or invalidate a breathalyzer test; it has no basis in fact. Not only that, pennies are no longer made primarily of copper, they’re mostly made of zinc.
4. You could be asked to recite the alphabet backwards.
Unless you’re in second or third grade, you probably can’t recite the alphabet backwards sober! While the alphabet test is a common field sobriety test in some jurisdictions, suspects are not asked to recite the alphabet backwards – thank goodness! However, suspects may be asked to recite the alphabet with their eyes closed as the officers check their balance and coordination.
5. You can’t refuse the field sobriety tests.
Field sobriety tests (the roadside tests) are optional. This means that you can politely refuse to take them and there will be no consequences for refusing. However, if you are arrested and you subsequently refuse to submit to a chemical test, you face an automatic one-year driver’s license suspension if it’s your first refusal.
We hope this list clears up a few things for you. If you need an Orange County DUI lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. for a free case evaluation!