A Canadian man from Ontario who was suspected of driving drunk tried to trick a breathalyzer by swallowing a penny.
According to police, an officer noticed the man driving an SUV without headlights on at about 2:30 a.m. Following the stop, the officer suspected that the man was intoxicated. When officers attempted to give the man a breathalyzer, he popped something in his mouth. Police said that when the man was asked what he had put into his mouth, he allegedly stuck his tongue out displaying the penny. The man then swallowed the penny after the officer asked him to remove it from his mouth.
Not only was the man charged with drunk driving, but he was also a charged with obstructing a peace officer for allegedly swallowing the penny.
Although rumored to trick the breathalyzer into providing extraordinarily high readings and thus allowing a person to claim that the breathalyzer was faulty, sucking on a penny or, in this case, swallowing a penny will do nothing to affect the accuracy of a breathalyzer.
Another rumor was that this DUI “cheat” is what caused the U.S. mint to change pennies from all copper to mostly zinc in 1982. The change, however, was the result of the government saving $25 million in annual metal costs, not to prevent people from tricking breathalyzer.
The trick itself is no trick at all. Although swallowing a penny wasn’t tested, Mythbusters hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman tested whether swallowing a penny affected a breathalyzer’s results. The myth was busted when Savage and Hyneman confirmed that the penny had no effect on the breathalyzer.
If the penny had no effect on the breathalyzer, then why was the man also charged with obstructing a peace officer?