The Last Frontier has some of the nation’s strictest penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol. According to the Division of Motor Vehicles, a first-time conviction can cause you to lose your driver’s license, pay a hefty fine and possibly even spend some time behind bars.
While it is admirable to commit never to drinking and driving, life can get in the way of your good intentions. If you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror after a night of drinking, you may wonder if you should put a penny in your mouth. The answer is no.
The penny myth
For decades, there has been a popular theory that the iron, zinc and copper in pennies interfere with DUI breath tests. The theory, though, misunderstands how breath tests work.
Even if you have high quantities of iron, zinc and copper in your mouth, the test measures blood alcohol concentration and could not care less about these metals. Put simply, you cannot trick a DUI breath test by sucking or chewing on a penny.
Your state of mind
Like you, patrol officers around Alaska have heard about the penny myth.
If you have a penny in your mouth when an officer approaches, he or she is likely to know exactly what you are trying to do. If it causes an officer to administer a breath test, having a penny in your mouth is likely to do more harm than good. Moreover, pennies are downright filthy.
Ultimately, rather than relying on urban legends to keep you out of trouble, you are better off understanding your DUI-related legal rights and exploring all possible defenses.