According to a 2015 news report, more Ohio drivers are refusing to take breathalyzer tests when pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving. The penalties for refusing a breathalyzer test in Ohio is a year suspension of your driver’s license. But, the alternative may be to provide evidence against yourself in a DUI case

The breathalyzer tests are known to be unreliable, and the time alcohol stays on your breath varies from person to person.

How Does Alcohol Enter the Bloodstream?

Just 30 seconds after drinking, alcohol is in your bloodstream. 

As about 20 percent makes its way to your brain, the remaining 80 percent goes to your digestive system. Before leaving your body through sweating, breathing, and urination, most of the alcohol ends up in the liver, where it metabolizes. 

How Long Does Alcohol Stay On Your Breath?

It obviously depends upon how much you’ve had to drink. In general, though, alcohol is burned from your system at about 0.15 grams per hour. 

For example, if you’ve had just one drink, your blood alcohol content (BAC) would be about 0.02. After about an hour, the BAC would be nearly zero. If you had a BAC of 0.2, though, it would take nearly 13 hours to reach a zero level. 

The characteristic smell of alcohol on your breath is the result of drinking faster than what your liver is capable of handling. The alcohol then builds up in the bloodstream and travels throughout your body. The smell of alcohol is actually coming from your lungs rather than your mouth.

Drinking on a full stomach or eating something while drinking will slow down the rate at which the alcohol enters the digestive system. 

How Long Can A Breathalyzer Detect Alcohol?

During a breathalyzer test, the officer attempts to measure the percentage of alcohol you breathe into the device. That percentage is then multiplied by 2,100 to determine your blood alcohol reading.

That is because the average person’s body will create 1 part alcohol in their breath for every 2,100 parts in the blood. 

Generally speaking, it’s believed that a breathalyzer device can detect alcohol within 15 minutes of your first drink. As long as the alcohol is in your system, the breathalyzer should be able to detect it. 

Using the formula for the burn rate of alcohol being 0.15 grams per hour, a BAC of 0.03 should take two hours to leave your system. In other words, the breathalyzer should not make a detection after then.

We’re all different, however, so any variable can change the alcohol ratio. Such variables can include your body temperature, respiration rate, or hormone levels.

How Do I Get Rid Of Alcohol on My Breath Before Taking a Breathalyzer?

Your best bet for minimizing the strength of your alcohol breath is to hydrate your body with water and other non-alcoholic drinks.

This helps to dilute the alcohol and give your body a bit more time to metabolize the alcohol.

Other tips for keeping your BAC low include:

  • Pacing yourself to no more than one drink per hour;
  • Sip your drinks slowly;
  • If you’re going to drink alcohol, only do so when it will fit into the consumption schedule; and
  • Stick with standard drink sizes (12 ounces for beer; five ounces for wine; and one-and-a-half ounce for spirits).

Also, eating before or during the time you consume alcohol can do the same thing. In fact, your BAC may be up to three times higher if you drink on an empty stomach. 

Should I Take a Breathalyzer Test?

Absolutely not. If you’re pulled over for suspicion of operating a vehicle impaired (OVI/DUI) in Ohio, you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer or field sobriety test. 

The penalties for OVI/DUI in Ohio can be stiff. Although you’ll still face charges of OVI/DUI and will lose your license, the prosecutor will have a much more difficult time convicting you without evidence from the breathalyzer. 

Again, breathalyzer tests are known to be unreliable, so there’s really nothing for you to gain by taking one. 

Field sobriety tests are even less reliable. People who are older, are on medication, or suffer from back pain will commonly experience trouble with field sobriety tests – even when completely sober. 

The Bottom Line

If you’re pulled over for OVI/DUI in Ohio, this is your best course of action: remain calm, be cooperative, and say as little as possible to the officer. Finally, contact an OVI/DUI attorney as soon as possible. Do not take a breathalyzer or field sobriety test.