Can drinking vinegar help you pass a roadside drug test?

Are there any ways to pass a roadside drug test if you have been taking drugs? I've heard from friends that if you rinse your mouth with vinegar you will pass the test, even if you've just taken drugs. Is that true? Also, how long do the tests detect drugs in your system?

I have answered a question about roadside drug testing and how it works in a previous entry and also covered how long the tests are able to detect drugs in the driver's system. As I said then, it is extremely difficult to give accurate information to people about how long the drugs can be detected by roadside drug testing (RDT). According to the police, the swab test (the piece of plastic rolled across the tongue), will detect THC (cannabis) several hours after use. Ecstasy or methamphetamines, on the other hand, may be detected 24 hours after use, sometimes even longer - depending on how much of the drug was used, if other drugs were taken and, of course, individual metabolism.

So are there ways to pass a roadside drug test if you have been using drugs? For as long as there has been drug testing, there have been people trying to come up with ways of avoiding a positive test. There are hundreds of websites dedicated to selling products (including 'drug-free' urine for those people who have to take a urine test at work) that supposedly help people pass tests, particularly those administered in the workplace. As far as RDT is concerned, there is currently not a great deal of internet chatter in this area, but what there is does seem to focus on this idea of using vinegar. Here's an example of one of the conversations:

"Just keep a little bottle of balsamic vinegar in your car. If you see the big police Winnebago bus up ahead, take a swig out of the bottle. Then when they do the saliva swab test it'll show up negative no matter what. Apparently."

So is this true? Will vinegar help you pass a roadside drug test?

This idea seems to go back a long way with vinegar touted as a possible way of avoiding all types of drug tests - saliva, urine and hair - for all types of drugs, but most particularly cannabis. It appears to be based on vinegar's acidic properties and its ability to speed up metabolism and break down food effectively, with one site claiming that vinegar 'flushes the THC metabolites stored in fat cells into the kidneys and livers where it will be processed faster'. You will find lots of stories online of people who claim to have beaten a drug test, roadside or otherwise, by a variety of methods, but that doesn't mean that will work for everyone. Maybe they just got lucky! Maybe they just heard it from someone who said that they were pretty sure that it was true. Relying on anecdotal reports like this, hoping to avoid a drug driving offence is a bad move. The real deal is:

There is no evidence that drinking or gargling with vinegar is going to help you pass a roadside drug test.

It is important to remember that the swab test used in RDT is not 100% accurate and that it is only used by police to get an indication of possible use, thus allowing them to administer further tests. The follow-up tests are far more accurate and it is those tests that are used to prosecute drivers who have used drugs. Young drivers should also be aware that, in many jurisdictions across the country, even if they pass the swab test, if a police officer believes that they are driving under the influence of a drug, they have the power to bypass the swab test and simply take the driver to the station or a hospital for the more accurate test. No-one wants a drug driving charge and as testing becomes more sophisticated its going to become far more difficult to avoid a positive test if you have been using a drug.

First published: August 2015