Why Are Police in PA Looking for Green Tongues in Marijuana DUI Stops?
Many people who have been pulled over throughout Pennsylvania are reporting that police checked their tongues for a green coating. This may seem very odd, but it has actually been a practice followed by many law enforcement agencies throughout the United States for several decades. Some members of law enforcement believe that a green tongue is a sign of recent marijuana use. Checking drivers’ tongues has increased as police in our state work to arrest those who get behind the wheel while under the influence of marijuana. However, there are many concerns that this practice is unfair due to the uncertainty that revolves around its effectiveness. A marijuana DUI can have long lasting consequences, and you need to contact a skilled lawyer as soon as possible after an arrest.
The lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC have represented many Pittsburgh area residents after DUI arrests. We understand how the prosecutor will handle your case, and how important it is for you to clear your name. Contact our office today to speak with one of our lawyers about your arrest. Call us at (412) 281-2146 or fill out our online contact form.
Some Police Believe a Green Tongue is a Sign of Marijuana Use
There is a lot of pressure on police to get intoxicated drivers off of the road. While DUIs generally stem from alcohol consumption, you can get a DUI charge for being under the influence of any drug; this includes marijuana and other substances used for recreational or medicinal purposes. Many law enforcement officers are under the impression that a marijuana user’s tongue will become green in some or all cases of consuming this Schedule I drug. Although it’s not employed in every roadside stop, checking your tongue might be one of several things police do after pulling you over.
Police must have reasonable cause to believe you are intoxicated before they can arrest you. Carefully observing you and properly gathering evidence is essential if they are to successfully charge you with a drug crime. An officer may ask to see your tongue or they may casually observe it while you speak with them. Other signs of marijuana impairment that police may be looking for include:
- Odor: Police may feel as though the odor of your vehicle is strong evidence of the presence or use of marijuana.
- Nystagmus of the eyes: The uncontrolled movement or shaking of a person’s eyes is considered to be a possible sign of marijuana use as well as alcohol intoxication. This can be observed in the horizontal or vertical movement of a person’s eyes, or when the eyes cannot stay still as the person stares straight ahead.
- Unusual behavior with eye pupils: Dilated or constricted pupils, or pupils that seem to pulsate, can result from marijuana use. Police may apply bright light as they observe a person’s pupils.
- Difficulty with physical coordination: A person who is under the influence of marijuana might have considerable difficulty with depth perception or balancing. Coordination skills can be assessed in a variety of short physical roadside tests.
How Your Lawyer Can Defend You After a Marijuana DUI Arrest
Looking for green tongues on those suspected of marijuana use is common. While this procedure can be found throughout the United States, there remains significant doubt about its accuracy. Officers have been checking for green coatings on tongues since the 1980s, and information regarding its use can be found in many police handbooks. However, courts throughout the country have been known to rule against prosecutors who rely on evidence of a green tongue to prove marijuana use and intoxication. This is because there is no definitive, scientific connection between marijuana use and a green coating on a person’s tongue. In fact, a Utah court has described the green tongue theory as a “hunch”, and therefore something that cannot be used as evidence against someone.
Prosecutor’s cases against intoxicated drivers almost never rely solely on evidence of a green tongue. Instead, police are trained to note numerous signs of possible marijuana use by drivers. Fortunately, a knowledgeable defense lawyer will be able to use their firm understanding of the law and science in your case in order to have your charges reduced or dismissed. When working to protect your rights after a DUI arrest, our firm will investigate the following:
- Probable cause for your stop: Police must have probable cause to stop and arrest you. This can include erratic or unsafe driving, but solely basing your arrest on a green tongue is not fair and must result in your case being dismissed.
- Witness statements: In addition to you and the arresting officers, there can be many other witnesses who saw you during or before your arrest. Their input can be very informative about what happened leading up to your arrest.
- Physical evidence: Police may conduct roadside physical tests, and samples of your breath or blood may be collected. Unfortunately, it’s common for law enforcement to make mistakes while gathering this evidence, and such errors can have a significant impact on your case.
Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys LLC Can Help You
Being pulled over for a suspected DUI offense is a very stressful situation for anybody. You may be asked to provide evidence that can be used against you in court. Maybe people have been confused by law enforcement officers who inspect drivers’ tongues when making a traffic stop. Many police believe that a green tongue is a sign of marijuana use. While this is not something that is strongly backed by science, they still may look for it while they gather evidence against you. It’s important to contact your lawyer after you have been charged with Marijuana DUI. Our legal team understands how to protect your rights after an arrest, and we know how to successful help you through every part of the legal process that follows.
Contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC to speak with one of our Pennsylvania defense lawyers today. Call our office in Pittsburgh at (412) 281-2146 or fill out our online contact form.