For some, just having a car breathalyzer (ignition interlock) is a reason to push the limits. It may not have been enough to put lives at risk during the DUI that led to the car breathalyzer. Some offenders feel slighted by the requirement, enough to try to circumvent the process so they can drive without worry (consequently, leaving the rest of us to worry!). Many years ago, it was possible to fool a car breathalyzer by using a balloon, a method that we see is still searched online. We hate to be the ones to break the news, but that old balloon method is a breathalyzer bust now.
Today’s car breathalyzers are too sophisticated for the balloon method.
Back when car breathalyzers were new, a balloon of sorts was used for the actual breath sample, in order to test the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of the person. That meant that in theory, another person could use that same balloon-type container instead of the intoxicated person. But those breathalyzers were not used in cars, but were for law enforcement to use upon suspecting a person was intoxicated behind the wheel. So, the balloon method is a theoretical way to get around the devices we use today, but it is not actually practical.
Car breathalyzers today use several different methods to ensure the identity and quality of the BAC sample submitted.
- Hum tone and breath strength: there’s a certain tone an offender is trained to hum for the device, and it measures the strength of that person’s breath too. A balloon cannot hum, nor does it have the same strength as human lungs.
- Rolling retests: even if an offender somehow manages to get around the intitial startup test with a clean BAC sample not belonging to them, rolling retests can catch that person “in the act” of driving drunk.
- Cameras and video: more and more states are requiring offenders to use the camera and video equipped car breathalyzers for obvious reasons. No balloon is smart enough to pass off as a human.
Car breathalyzers record all test attempts, even those with a balloon.
Not only is the device smart enough to catch circumvention attempts, but it will also record those attempts for the people who are monitoring the device. That means the DMV, court and/or probation officer assigned to supervising an offender will see the attempt (as a violation), and take action from there.