Court spikes ‘pierced tongue’ defense in DUI

/ Source: The Associated Press

The Indiana Supreme Court had the last word when it comes to pierced tongues and drunk driving tests in the state, ruling that having a tongue stud does not invalidate the results of a breath test.

State law says no foreign substance can be placed in a person's mouth during the 20 minutes before a breath test is administered because it might skew the results of the test.

But Brenna Guy had her tongue pierced much earlier before an Indianapolis police officer pulled her over for driving on the wrong side of the street downtown, the justices noted in their 4-0 Wednesday ruling.

And objects such as the stainless steel stud in Guy's tongue are not "foreign" if they are ordinarily found in the mouth, Justice Theodore Boehm added in a concurring opinion.

The officer who stopped Guy in 2001 noticed she was wearing the tongue stud, but did not make her remove it before administering the test that found her blood alcohol content was 0.11 percent, exceeding Indiana's 0.08 percent limit.

Guy's attorney sought to suppress the test results because of the state law regulating "foreign substances" in the mouth, but a Marion County judge rejected the argument and case was put on hold while the attorney appealed.

Robert Hammerle, Guy's attorney, said the ruling would place an undue burden on defendants who could not afford to hire expert witnesses. He said the court's had previously ruled that any foreign substance, which was not defined in law, could interfere with results of blood alcohol tests.

"We've gone from where you can't have anything in your mouth at the time of the test to where you can have anything in your mouth, as long as it's been in there for at least 20 minutes," he said.