A motorist whose tongue was green when a state trooper pulled him over has failed to beat his conviction for driving under the influence of marijuana.
A state Superior Court panel made that call in upholding the DUI conviction a Lancaster County judge slapped on 33-year-old Donyai Corbett of Coatesville.
In the state court’s opinion, President Judge Emeritus Correale F. Stevens rejected Corbett’s claim that the county judge prevented his lawyer from asking a relevant question during his nonjury trial.
Corbett fell afoul of the law by failing to signal while making a turn on Nov. 16, 2015. Trooper Peter Minko pulled him over and claimed he noticed a strong odor of marijuana coming from Corbett’s car.
Although Corbett registered no alcohol intoxication from a breath test, he failed field sobriety testing, and showed visible signs of intoxication, including bloodshot eyes and “a green tongue consistent with recent marijuana use,” the trooper said.
During Corbett’s trial before county Judge Margaret C. Miller, the defense attorney asked Minko whether he had asked Corbett for permission to search his car.
The prosecutor objected to that question, claiming it was irrelevant to whether Corbett was intoxicated. Miller sustained the objection.
Corbett claimed on appeal to Stevens’ court that the question was relevant in that the failure to even try to find any marijuana in his car could have bolstered his argument that he was not in fact under the influence of the drug.
Stevens didn’t bite. Instead, he found the absence of marijuana didn’t prove Corbett’s innocence, especially since physical signs of his intoxication were evident to an experienced trooper.
“The lack of contraband in a vehicle reasonably leads only to the inference that the visibly impaired driver must have ingested the marijuana at some moment before the stop,” Stevens wrote.
The state court ruling also affirms Corbett’s 72-hour to 6-month prison sentence.