Tongue Piercing Gets Woman Off DUI-Free

By McCarton Ackerman 05/01/12

New Jersey woman's failed blood alcohol test is voided in court on account of "foreign materials" in her mouth.

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Now that's what I call a loophole. Photo via

It looks like tongue studs have added benefits besides the one everybody talks about. A New Jersey woman who had a blood alcohol reading of nearly triple the legal limit has had her breathalyzer test voided in municipal court, in part because she had a tongue stud when she took the test. Twenty nine-year-old Kara Nelson was pulled over last January and submitted to field sobriety tests and a blood alcohol test, where she registered a .21 reading—well over the .08 limit for legal intoxication. However, her lawyer, Anthony Arbore, argued the reading was invalid because New Jersey law requires that people have no foreign materials in their mouth when they take the blood alcohol test. Municipal prosecutor Brian Mason recommended that Judge Brian Levine not consider the blood alcohol reading and the judge said that he's essentially required to accept the prosecutor's decision. However, Nelson pleaded guilty to drunk driving and Levine relied on other undisclosed factors in order to levy the minimum $256 fine and three month license suspension. Had the .21 reading stood, Nelson would have faced a mandatory $300 fine along with other court costs and seven months license suspension. A similar argument was made in 2005, where the Indiana Supreme Court heard a challenge and ruled that having a tongue stud does not invalidate the results of a breath test.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.