Friday, 26 July 2013

So you think you can cheat the breathalyser...

SPAIN A series of myths exist in Spain (and elsewhere) that certain methods or actions can trick a breathalyser into reducing the alcohol level showing on a breathalyser at a roadside test. Among these are drinking black coffee or even sucking on a coffee grain. There are more, but we should start with a statistic. Spain's National Institute of Toxicology revealed in a recent survey that 35% of drivers killed in road accidents last year, showed positive on post-mortem blood/alcohol tests. All the same, there are a number of urban myths that supposedly bely the truth of science. So, a study titled published recently by Fesvial (Fundación Española para la Seguridad Vial) and Línea Directa, the insurance company, reveals that some 8 million drivers (about 30% of total license holders) really do believe that there are tricks that cheat roadside breath tests. Among the more 'popular' are>>>
drinking coffee or chewing or sucking on a coffee bean and waiting an hour or two before taking the wheel. Nearly half (44%) the Spanish drivers have heard of such things, and some 2.7 million of them admit to having used them. Asked if they considered this behaviour - cheating the breathalyser - as socially acceptable, 2.5 million said that they thought it was perfectly acceptable.

The wrong kind of information from Internet 
A partial profile of the believer in such myths is as follows: male, 18 to 29, who uses social media (mainly WhatsApp and Internet) to get information about how to foil the breathalyzer. And he admits he has driven under the effects of alcohol.

Línea Directa carried out laboratory tests on the effectiveness of the two most popular methods. As expected, the tests proved that they were not in the least effective. The company later released a video of the tests, which got much media attention.

Do you know the limit in Spain? Or the penalties?
Only one third of Spanish drivers knows the maximum alcohol level allowed in Spain (0.25 mg per litre of blood, a relatively minor offence; 0.6%, a criminal offence).

The consequences of a positive breath test in Spain can be very serious, as no doubt is true in most of Europe.

What is called an infracción administrativa ('administrative infraction', or a so-called minor crime) can carry loss of driving licence for up to 3 months and a fine ranging from €302 to €602 - even to a jail term of between three and six months.

Despite the fact that the vast majority of Spanish drivers recognise that consequences such as these are useful in reducing drunk-driving accidents, 16% of the survey doubted its efficacy, and another 66% think that, in larger or smaller measure, the reason behind the fines is just another form of taxation. 

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