Huge Breathalyzer Error Discovered in Philadelphia

Many police officers rely on the results of a breathalyzer test to determine if a driver is under the influence.  These machines can read the level of alcohol on a person’s breath.  They must be carefully calibrated to ensure accuracy.

The first half of 2016 saw hundreds of DUI arrests in Philadelphia.  However, the breathalyzer machines used by Philadelphia police may have been improperly calibrated, calling these arrests into question.

A private attorney notified the department on Wednesday, June 27 that the police had been using a calibration that had been legally expired.  

As a result of the discovery, all machines were immediately removed from service.  

The department reported the incident to the District Attorney’s Office, asking them to review all cases between January 19 and June 29.  The office will make a determination about the future of these cases.

Joseph Kelly, the attorney who notified the department of the improperly calibrated devices said that he estimates between 500 and 1,000 cases will be affected.  The machines must be calibrated on a yearly basis using an approved solution provided by outside sources.  The solution used in January to calibrate the devices was an expired solution.

It is important to note that the devices were still reading blood alcohol levels accurately.  However, a defense attorney could argue that readings from improperly calibrated devices are inadmissible in court.  

Pending cases can still proceed without the tests.  The arresting officer can testify as to the driver’s impairment.  Slurred speech, unsteady gait, and a strong odor of alcohol can all be evidence in a DUI arrest.

If you have been arrested for a DUI, you will need legal representation.  Our attorneys specialize in the defense of DUI charges.  Contact us today.


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