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County court ruling could impact thousands of PA DUI cases

A recent ruling involving breathalyzer results could impact thousands of high-level DUI cases throughout Pennsylvania. A Dauphin County judge ruled that breathalyzer machines were not accurate in gauging blood alcohol levels higher than .15 percent. As such, breathalyzer evidence could not be used in prosecuting (extreme) DUI cases.

The current ruling only applies to DUI cases in Dauphin County, and the judge has dismissed fewer than 30 cases. However, the district attorney's office vows to appeal the ruling because it believes that the machines are sufficiently accurate in measuring BAC levels. If the appellate court upholds the decision, it could affect drunk driving cases throughout the commonwealth.

If this ruling is upheld, offenders could be spared from the fines and jail time that stem from high-level DUI convictions. For example, general impairment DUI's (those registering greater than .08 and less than .15) can be punished with a $300 fine compared to a $1000 fine with a high-level DUI. Those convicted of the most severe DUI also face jail time, where general offenders may not.

However, breathalyzer evidence is only one method of collecting evidence from suspects. Some Pennsylvania counties rely on blood samples which tend to be more accurate than breathalyzers. Nevertheless, the time taken to obtain such samples may give a person suspected of a serious DUI offense the time needed to lessen their BAC.

Ultimately, the story exemplifies the importance of having an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side if you are charged with a drunk driving offense in Pennsylvania.

Source: Pennlive.com, Dauphin County DA to appeal breathalyzer ruling that defense experts say could have major impact, January 3, 2013

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