The Philadelphia DUI Law Blog

Judge Finds Alcohol Breath Tests Unreliable; Lawyer Calls for Ban

How accurate are alcohol breath tests?

They've been conduced for years but now, a Dauphin County judge's opinion on these tests is taking center stage in the debate on DUI breath testing, as numerous DUI convictions are now under scrutiny, reports The Patriot News.

Last month, Judge Lawrence F. Clark Jr. threw out nearly two dozen drunken driving cases, citing bad science. He claimed in his Dec. 31 opinion that the methods used to calibrate the Intoxilyzer 5000EN machine raised some concerns about the accuracy of the machine's results, reports The Morning Call.

Accuracy of evidence is key in a good DUI case. If there exists any reasonable doubt about the defendant's guilt, then the issue must be addressed.

As a result, Judge Clark claims that those specific breath testing machines are inadmissible as evidence in court.

With Pennsylvania DUI penalties based largely on the level of intoxication, the exact BAC level plays a critical role in the fair trial of a DUI defendant. As a result, many Pennsylvania DUI attorneys are critical of breath-testing machines; some lawyers are even calling for an outright ban.

The case that started the debate in Dauphin County was the case of Jason R. Schildt. He was arrested in 2010 after a state trooper found him stumbling next to a creek near his car, which was overturned.

Schildt's crafty attorney challenged the accuracy of alcohol breath-testing machines. A smart move indeed, as the breath analysis was deemed inadmissible to prove the level of his alleged drunkenness.

That attorney has now filed a motion asking Judge Clark to push for a statewide suspension on alcohol breath testing. Says the attorney, "I don't want convictions that are not based on science, and in fact, are based on science fiction."

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