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)