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Litigation Blog.
The seasoned lawyers and litigators at The Rubinstein Law Firm are here to share their insights with you.

Can a penny save you from an OWI arrest?

If you have lived in Michigan for any time at all, you probably know just how seriously the state takes drunk driving. Indeed, following a conviction for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, you might pay a substantial fine and even spend some time behind bars. You also are likely to lose your driving privileges after an OWI arrest.

According to Michigan law, members of law enforcement can use breath tests to determine whether drivers have blood alcohol concentrations beyond the state’s 0.08% legal limit. Unfortunately, despite what you might have heard, sucking on a penny cannot help you beat an OWI breath test.

An outdated theory

When OWI breath testing was in its infancy, testing devices relied on traces of alcohol in a person’s mouth. At that time, the zinc and copper inside pennies could interfere with the test’s results. Since that time, though, technology has improved considerably. Nowadays, these metals have no effect on the outcome of an OWI breath test.

Another reason to be suspicious

If officers are asking you to breathe into a testing device, they probably already suspect you might be driving drunk. Because officers have heard about the penny trick, having a penny in your mouth is likely to raise their suspicions even more. Indeed, besides trying to interfere with the breath test, there is no valid reason for anyone to be sucking on a penny.

Ultimately, rather than reaching for the loose change in your center console and hoping for the best, you should exercise your legal rights during an OWI stop.