Sipho Mabena
Premium Journalist
2 minute read
1 Jan 2019
6:10 am

‘Eating cow dung’ won’t fool breathalyser test… don’t drink

Sipho Mabena

The only way to beat the test is by not drinking when you're going to be driving, Justice Project SA says of futile exercises to appear sober.

Picture: Thinkstock

Gargling with petrol or diesel or mouth wash, drinking umqombothi (traditional brew) and eating cow dung or a raw onion.

These are some of the outra02geous methods said to be used by drunk drivers in a futile exercise to beat the breathalyser test.

Experts and traffic authorities say these are just a waste of time and in fact some of these methods will actually compound your alcohol test results.

Chairperson of Justice Project South Africa, Howard Dembovsky said these myths are utter nonsense.

“If you are going to drink, don’t drive. If you are going to drive, don’t drink,” he said.

Dembovsky said it took a lot less alcohol than most people realise to convict a person of driving under the influence of alcohol. He said this was because the breath alcohol limit of below 0,24mg/litre of breath alcohol applicable to ordinary drivers and below 0,10mg/litre of breath alcohol applicable to professional drivers can be exceeded by consuming just one beer.

Dembovsky explained that while handheld breath alcohol screening devices did not discriminate between mouth alcohol and deep lung breath alcohol, evidential breath alcohol testing device (Ebat) do and would give an error if mouth alcohol is detected.

“This should not happen in any event since the manufacturer’s operating instructions dictate that the person providing the sample should first be stabilised (not allowed to consume anything) for around 20 minutes prior to testing,” Dembovsky said.

He said handheld breath alcohol screening devices used on the roadside were designed to give a law enforcement official an idea of whether a person may be under the influence of alcohol and results from them are not admissible in evidence, while the results from an Ebat machine were admissible in evidence.

Dembovsky said the purpose of Ebat was to circumvent the need to draw and test blood samples, which he said was generally inefficient since state laboratories tend to take an inordinately long time to provide the results of forensic blood alcohol testing to the prosecution and court.

“There is no way to beat an Ebat machine and the clue to the authenticity of the claim that cow dung will do the trick lies in the substance that it is suggested that you eat,” he charged.

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