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Tongue Ring Challenge: OWI Breathalyzer Suppressed

An Indiana woman was pulled over by Indianapolis police and subjected to field sobriety tests, which she failed. Following this, the officer administered a breathalyzer test without requiring her to remove her tongue ring, despite noticing it. The woman's breath test result exceeded the legal limit, leading to her operating while intoxicated “OWI” charge. Subsequently, she filed a motion to suppress the breath test results, which a Marion County trial court initially denied.

Indiana Court of Appeals Review
The issue in this case revolved around the standards for conducting a breathalyzer test, which require that the individual being tested must not have introduced any foreign substance into their mouth within twenty minutes prior to the test. It was the definition of "foreign substance" that became the focal point of the appeal.

The Tongue Ring Dilemma in OWI Cases

The issue on whether the breath test was admissible for an operating while intoxicated charge  was whether the woman's tongue ring qualified as a "foreign substance" according to the breathalyzer standards. While seemingly harmless, the Court of Appeals concluded that the presence of a tongue ring did indeed meet the criteria for introducing a foreign substance into one's mouth. This finding was pivotal, leading to a reversal of the trial court's decision rendering the breath test inadmissible.

Hiring an Experienced OWI Attorney Matters

This case highlights the significance of hiring an attorney who understands the technical requirements of breath test procedures in DUI  - OWI cases. Law enforcement officers must follow strict guidelines when administering breathalyzer tests. It’s critical to hire a criminal defense attorney who will examine every detail of a client's case.


The Indiana Court of Appeals' ruling in this case, where a tongue ring led to the suppression of breathalyzer results, is an example of the technical nature of OWI defense. Even seemingly minor details can have a significant impact on the outcome of a case. OWI defense attorneys must remain vigilant and explore all potential avenues to protect the rights of their clients facing operating while intoxicated charges.
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Posted: 10/16/2023 11:57:04 PM by Brett Gibson


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