Give a penny. Take a penny. You’ll still blow the breathalyzer test

If you drive around with a penny in your mouth, you’re probably too drunk to drive. And you’re probably not a science major.

Devin Lief Heyrunning, 31, was arrested in April after two police officers in Worthington suspected him of drunk driving. He was found in a motel parking lot, smelling of alcohol.

According to the Worthington Daily Globe:

Heyrunning agreed to submit to standardized field sobriety tests, and officers observed him swaying from side-to-side and failing to fully complete instructions. When asked to submit to a preliminary breath test, he pulled a penny from his mouth. According to the complaint, some people believe that having a penny in one’s mouth can reduce the smell of alcohol or influence a breath test.

Heyrunning blew a .10 on the breathalyzer. He also blew science. And history.

The theory is that the copper mixes with alcohol in the drunken drivers’ mouth, and causes a false reading.

“Apparently this myth has something to do with a purported reaction between copper and alcohol,” according to Dr. Anne Marie Helmenstein. “Even if this were true, pennies consist primarily of zinc.” It has been since 1982.

In court yesterday, a judge stopped all proceedings against Heyrunning until the U.S. Supreme Court rules whether Minnesota’s implied consent law is constitutional. It threatens drivers with more serious felony charges if they refuse to submit to testing for driving under the influence.

Related: Trumbull man eats feces following DUI arrest (Trumbull, Conn., Times)

  • wjc
    • jon

      That’s just because Mythbusters is beholden to the police force… if the police and fire departments weren’t on their side they’d never be able to get the permits they needed to blow things up.

      • Jack Ungerleider

        Yes they were connected to the police and fire departments because of what they did, but I don’t think they cooked the results because of it. I think the groups involved might have been as curious about the myths as any one who watched the show. If they showed that the penny in the mount trick worked then the police would go back to the Breathalyzer people and get them to fix it.

        • jon

          Must have forgot to put a smiley at the end of my previous comment.

          Also if the penny test came back to defeat the breathalyzer they would have gone back to the breathalyzer people secretly while telling the public it doesn’t work. 🙂

          (Got the smiley this time)

  • Rob

    It’s a good thing the myth doesn’t involve metals used to make 50-cent pieces…

  • Gary F

    And if you are drunk enough you might swallow it.

    • Rob

      My point exactly.

  • Ryan Johnson

    While US pennies are 99% zinc, they are clad in pure copper, so it really doesn’t matter. Still doesn’t work, but claiming pennies are mostly zinc so it wouldn’t work anyway is as bad as claiming it works at all.

    • Jack Ungerleider

      I don’t know what the chemical reaction is supposed to be, but a better response than the one about being 99% Zinc is whether the reaction takes place with Copper Oxide. Unless the penny is bright and shiny its not pure copper on the surface, its Copper Oxide.

  • Mike Worcester

    At least people stopped thinking that eating a cig would do the trick also. I mean, wth? :O

  • Prescott

    I’d think a couple of Benjamins would go over better with the cops.