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Breath Testing Devices Taken Off-Line

As a result of a DUI ruling in a court in Dauphin County, the Pennsylvania State Police have taken the use of all breath testing machines offline until a further determination is made. The Court has ruled that breath testing in Pennsylvania on blood alcohol readings below .05 BAC and above .15 BAC fail to meet the scientifically acceptable level of reliability used by prosecutors to meet their burden of proving a defendant guilty of drunk driving beyond a reasonable doubt.  The case has now been appealed to the Superior Court by the Dauphin County District Attorney.  Until then, the case has little precedential value, which means if you are charged with drunk driving after failing a breath test, your case may still go to trial depending on where you were arrested.  Most of the local counties rely on blood testing for DUI results, and not breath testing.  Those cases will not be affected by this case.  The fallout from this will include more people being charged because blood testing is more reliable, but also picks up drugs that are in the blood legally or illegally.  Someone who ingests marijuana a week before being arrested, for instance, will likely have the marijuana show up in the blood and cause charges to be brought despite having no effect on the drivers ability to safely operate the vehicle.

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Gregory R. Gifford
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