Did I really operate a car under the influence of alcohol? Breathylzer Questioned.

A recent Dauphin County DUI trial has called into question the reliability of the widely used breathalyzer device, the Intoxilyzer 5000.  The device, commonly used by Pennsylvania State Police, is used to measure the blood alcohol content from an individual’s breath.

Pennsylvania currently has a three tier system with respect to DUI charges.  The legal limit for driving under the influence is .08 percent.  A blood alcohol level between .10 percent and .159 percent would constitute a tier two offense.  A tier three charge would consist of blood alcohol level in excess of .159 percent, and carry the most severe penalties and fines. Judge Lawrence F. Clark Jr. of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas issued a decision that breathalyzer readings could only be used as evidence if they were between .08 percent and .15 percent because the machine was only calibrated them between those levels. The testimony revealed that the breathalyzer used in that case was not capable of providing a legally acceptable blood alcohol content reading beyond .15 percent.  As such, the judge ruled the breathalyzer results were inadmissible and couldn’t be considered accurate to determine sobriety.  As a result of this ruling Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marisico has discontinued the use of all breath testing machines that are used in police stations. Marisico also plans on filing an appeal.  New DUI defendants will be able to challenge tier three breathalyzer results, and once the case has exhauted all of the appeals, thousands of DUI defendants across the state may be able to challenge their convictions.