PA Judge: DUI Breathlyzers Not Accurate, Previous Convictions could be Tossed
A Dauphin County judge's ruling has the potential to affect thousands of DUI prosecutions across the state, but South Whitehall Police do not use the Breathalyzers in question.
According to a story in the Patriot News a Dauphin County judge’s ruling has the "potential to derail thousands of drunken driving prosecutions and convictions" across Pennsylvania.
"Judge Lawrence F. Clark Jr. concluded that Breathalyzer machines used by law enforcement to gauge the intoxication level of drivers cannot be considered accurate beyond a blood-alcohol reading of 0.15 percent."
In South Whitehall, however, police do not use the Breathalyzer machines the judge referred to, according to Sgt. Jason Negron. He said South Whitehall does have portable devices in their cars but they are used only to determine if alcohol is present.
He said Pennsylvania State Police use the Breathalyzers but South Whitehall officers rely on blood-alcohol testing done at the Lehigh County DUI Processing Center.
The Dauphin County judge's decision means the devices in question can’t be used to determine if someone is so intoxicated that he can be prosecuted under the state’s highest level of DUI impairment statute. Drivers can be charged if their blood-alcohol content is more than .08 percent.
The Patriot News reported that testimony in a recent DUI case convinced the judge that the machines aren’t properly calibrated to give accurate blood-alcohol readings at any level. He said the process used to calibrate them doesn’t follow state regulations.
Clark not only voided the Breathalyzer evidence against the defendant in the case in question but also for 19 other highest-rate DUI cases in county court, according to the Patriot News story.
In addition, he ruled that "DUI prosecutions based on any blood-alcohol-level readings secured by using the much-used Intoxilyzer 5000EN Breathalyzer should be regarded as extremely questionable.”
If District Attorney Edward M. Marsico Jr. does not appeal and the state uphold's the judge's decision, it could affect DUI convictions across the state.