When you go out for a night of drinking, one of your many concerns, especially if you live with a significant other, is, “Does my breath smell like alcohol.” Having your breath smell like alcohol could lead you to a series of problems you never thought you would get into. Sometimes even if you are below the drinking level, if a police officer were to pull you over and smell alcohol on your breath, they can still pull you over and make you go through the alcohol test.
Of course, if you are below the limit, you will pass, but it provides an inconvenience in your transit home. Through the decade, countless myths and tips have circulated on how to hide your breath, chew gum, brush your teeth, eat a breath mint, etc., and while some of these tips hold merits, the best outcome is the smell leaving naturally.
But how long does that take? Typically alcohol stays on a person’s breath for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, depending on the person. Of course, it could be less than 12 hours or potentially more than 24 hours, but that’s on a case-by-case basis.
Below we’ll dive deeper into this topic and hopefully provide a better understanding of why this occurs.
Can you get arrested for having breath that smells like alcohol?
The answer is no, but there is a caveat. Having breath that smells like alcohol does lead someone to believe that you have been drinking, but that alone does not give a police officer the authority to arrest. But as mentioned in the intro, it does open the door to the officer wanting to conduct the further test. So they now can begin to conduct a breathalyzer test and the other test they have prepared to use as evidence that you are unfit to be driving and thus be placed under arrest. But suppose they pull you over for a broken taillight, not any sort of reckless driving, and they pull up to your window, and they smell alcohol on your breath; that alone does not give them the authority to arrest you, and if they wish, they could simply let you go without any test if everything about you checks out.
Could you fail a Breathalyzer test if you smell alcohol on your breath?
The smell of alcohol does not mean you will fail a breathalyzer test. Having the smell of alcohol on your breath does mean that you have been out drinking, but that does not mean you are past the legal limit. What a breathalyzer does, despite its name, is determine your blood alcohol content, and to do this is to measure the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. Under most circumstances, the legal limit you must remain below to avoid arrest of 0.08%. Having the smell of alcohol does not mean you have passed that limit, and only the alcohol content in your bloodstream can determine that.
Alcohol remains in the bloodstream for up to six hours after your last drink, so it’s possible to have a breath that smells like alcohol well past your last drink, but you would still pass a breathalyzer test.
How to get rid of the smell of alcohol faster
In the intro, we mentioned a few tips circulating through the party world on how to get rid of the smell of alcohol. While some of these tips hold merit, there is no proven way to eliminate alcohol from your breath, but simple time. This is because when you drink alcohol, the alcohol gets absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach and intestines. Your enzymes prepare the alcohol to be eliminated later on by metabolizing it.
By the end, most of the alcohol in your system gets released through the liver, with the key word being most; the rest of the alcohol was not metabolized and thus did not exit the body through the liver and will get released through your breath.
With this deep relationship the alcohol has with your body, you can see why it’s difficult to remove the alcohol from your breath. Something closely aligned with your body can’t simply be removed with a breath mint. However, if you are looking for a quick solution instead of some of the ones mentioned in the intro, which are more myths, here are some proven ways to temporarily eliminate the smell of alcohol from your breath.
- Drink coffee
- Suck on a cough drop
- Swish around alcohol-containing mouthwash.
The main emphasis of these tips is to replace the smell with something else. If you ever try these tips, a person in the immediate aftermath will be overwhelmed with the smell of the coffee or the cough drop, but after a while, the smell will fade, and the alcohol will re-emerge.
Even when you attempt these tips, a person could still smell hints of alcohol. The only thing guaranteed to get rid of the smell is time, so staying away from troubling situations until the smell disappears is your best bet.
How to avoid alcohol-smelling breath
The obvious answer to this question would be not to consume alcohol, but there are a few ways you can avoid alcohol on your breath. They are not foolproof but they at least lower the strength of the aroma.
- Have a mixture of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
- When drinking, do not go overboard
- Only drink beverages with a low alcohol content level.
- Do not drink alcohol straight on; water it down with water, ice, etc.
Again, these are not foolproof, but they will ensure that if someone smells alcohol on their breath, it is not this overwhelming smell.
I am a passionate beer connoisseur with a deep appreciation for the art and science of brewing. With years of experience tasting and evaluating various beers, I love to share my opinions and insights with others and I am always eager to engage in lively discussions about my favorite beverage.