A recent DWI case in Mount Olive raises an important issue concerning the reliability of the breath test results in certain cases. In this case, a woman was arrested for drunk driving and provided a breath sample on the Alcotest 7110 breath testing device of .21% Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), which is more than 2.5 times the legal limit of .08% BAC. However, her defense attorney was able to isolate an important issue with regards to the admissibility of the breath test result which allowed her breath test reading to be suppressed. The woman had a tongue ring in her mouth at the time she provided the breath sample. This can effect the reliability of the breath test result. According to State v. Chun, the landmark DWI case in New Jersey, the driver must be observed for twenty (20) minutes prior to providing samples of their breath because if the driver eats anything, chews gum, burps, throws-up, smokes a cigarette, etc. then this can effect the mouth alcohol levels which could give the breath testing device a false result. Moreover, all things should be removed from the driver’s mouth prior to that 20 minute observation period. The failure to remove the tongue ring could have given the breath testing machine a false reading. Therefore, the breath test result was deemed inadmissible and was suppressed from the case. This was the correct result in this case.
For additonal information, please see the article entitled, “Tongue stud helps woman reduce drunk-driving charge in Mount Olive”.