Dauphin County judge Lawrence F. Clark Jr. has ruled to void breathalyzer evidence in 20 of the highest-penalized DUI cases in the county. Judge Clark Jr.’s ruling decision came after convincing evidence showed that the breathalyzer machines used could not provide an accurate reading beyond 0.15 percent.
A driver in Pennsylvania can be charged with DUI if their blood alcohol content is above 0.08% (the national standard). Under Pennsylvania law (75 Pa.C.S. Section 3802) (b), a driver can be charged with DUI or actual physical control if their BAC is between .08% and .10% and they will face higher penalties than “General Impairment.” The highest rate of alcohol charge deals with those whose alcohol concentration measurable by breath or blood is above .16%.
The last charge is what is specifically being effected by Judge Clark Jr.’s ruling. If breathalyzers cannot accurately measure above .15%, then not all of those charged with the highest rate of alcohol may be guilty of that charge.
Judge Clark Jr. also ruled that DUI prosecutions obtained by evidence using the 5000EN breathalyzer must be considered “extremely questionable.” Testimony of the breathalyzers convinced the judge that the machines are not properly calibrated to give accurate readings at any level. The judge said that the machines are not calibrated according to state regulations.
Justin McShane is the DUI attorney who filed a challenge on his client’s behalf. DUI attorney Justin McShane challenged the accuracy of the breathalyzers, and asked Judge Clark Jr. to void the breathalyzer evidence used by the police. As a result, Judge Clark Jr. not only voided the evidence in Justin McShane’s client’s case, but also in 19 other highest-rate DUI cases in Dauphin County court.
The judge’s ruling has the potential to overturn thousands of drunk driving prosecutions and convictions locally in Dauphin County as well as across the state of Pennsylvania.