Urban legends can be found on virtually every subject, from health matters (“sleeping with raw onions on your feet can cure illness!”) to stories of alligators in sewers and the guy who used a microwave oven to dry his hair. Amusing, perhaps, but not true.
Urban legends also persist around the subject of drinking and driving. Again, they’re untrue stories, but sometimes people are persuaded to believe them. The result can be an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence. Let’s take a look at some of the enduring myths that involve alcohol and getting behind the wheel.
One of the urban legends that refuses to go away is the myth that drinking coffee can help a person sober up so that they’ll be fit to drive. If you watch old black-and-white movies, you can sometimes see this myth treated as if it were fact: “Here, Sam, have some of this java. You’ll be as sober as a judge after a cup or two.”
Wrong. Coffee doesn’t sober people up. While the caffeine in coffee might give some people the illusion of being alert, only the passage of time diminishes the effects of alcohol.
Another urban legend: eating breath mints will fool the breathalyzer or at least fool the police officer who pulled the driver over. Wrong and wrong. The breathalyzer analyzes the alcohol in breath, not how minty breath might be. Drivers pulled over on suspicion of DUI can expect to be given a sobriety test to assess their sense of balance and other factors, not a fresh-breath test.
Other persistent urban legends: eating a big meal before or after drinking will diminish the effects of alcohol. Again, untrue. Splashing the face with cold water or taking a cold shower will sober a driver up. Once again, myths. Only the passage of time will return a person to sobriety.
Experts say about one hour per drink consumed must pass before a person is sober.
Source: bloodalcoholcalculator.org, “Common Misbeliefs,” accessed Sept. 10, 2014