Breathalyzers, those handy roadside devices that police officers use to determine if you’re inebriated while behind the wheel, are fairly familiar to most Americans. You just blow into one of these devices and let it measure the amount of alcohol in your breath. Then, it spits out a figure that represents your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you’re over the legal limit (and, sometimes, even if you’re not), you get charged with drunk driving.

A whole mythology has grown up around Breathalyzers based on anecdotal evidence and stories people spread about how to “beat” them. The odds are good that you’ve heard and even believe several pieces of misinformation about Breathalyzers.

Here are four lies about Breathalyzers that you shouldn’t take to heart:

  1. You can trick a Breathalyzer by drinking extra water, swallowing mouthwash, spraying your mouth with perfume or sucking on a penny. We’ve lumped all of these into the same category because they’re all false. Some of them (like swallowing mouthwash) can actually raise your Breathalyzer results, not lower them.
  2. You can fool the Breathalyzer if you cover up the odor of alcohol with mints, garlic or spicy food. Again, this just isn’t true. A Breathalyzer measures molecules of alcohol, not odors.
  3. You can defeat a Breathalyzer by hyperventilating, holding your breath or sucking air instead of blowing. There’s a little bit of truth to these ideas, but the reality is that the police officer is probably not going to stand there and let you get away with any of this. You may just have to repeat the test (or could be subjected to a blood test, instead).
  4. A Breathalyzer is always accurate. There are dozens of factors that play into how accurate a Breathalyzer really is, from how well-trained the officer is in its use to when the device was last calibrated.

Don’t let a Breathalyzer test make you believe that your drunk driving case is hopeless. Many different avenues of defense could be available to you. Put your faith in an experienced defense attorney, instead of relying on urban legends.