Volume 43, Issue 1 (January 1998)
Lack of Effect of Tongue Piercing on an Evidential Breath Alcohol Test
Defendants in several driving under the influence cases have asserted that the presence in the mouth of a metal stud through a hole pierced in the tongue invalidates the breath alcohol test because of the prohibition against foreign substances in the mouth, and because of the potential for the jewelry to retain alcohol and interfere with the breath test. Rates of mouth alcohol elimination were evaluated in two subjects with pierced tongues and in two control subjects. No differences in the mouth alcohol elimination patterns were observed. The 15 min alcohol deprivation period prior to the test ensures no effect from residual mouth alcohol. For the purposes of breath alcohol testing, oral jewelry should be treated in the same manner as dental work, and may be left in place during the test without affecting its outcome.