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Pennsylvania Court Discusses Regulations Governing the Use of Breathalyzer Tests

In the majority of cases in which a defendant is charged with a DUI offense, the Commonwealth will rely on the results of the defendant’s breathalyzer test as evidence of the defendant’s guilt. Thus, if a defendant can prove that the test was administered via a faulty breathalyzer machine, he or she may be able to argue that the results are inaccurate and, therefore, should be deemed inadmissible.  In a recent case in which a DUI defendant moved to suppress the results of her breathalyzer test, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania discussed regulations governing the use of breathalyzer tests. If you reside in Pennsylvania and are charged with a DUI crime following a breathalyzer test, it is advisable to consult a proficient Pennsylvania DUI attorney to discuss what defenses may be available in your case.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was arrested due to suspicion of DUI. She was transported to the police headquarters, where she submitted to a breathalyzer test. The test indicated her blood alcohol content to be 0.225. She was then charged with DUI – highest rate of alcohol. In an unrelated case, discovery revealed that the breathalyzer device used to administer the defendant’s test produced inconsistent results five months prior to the defendant’s arrest. The device was then removed from service, recalibrated, and retested prior to being placed back into service. No repairs were made on the device.

Reportedly, the defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of her breathalyzer test, arguing that the device should have been repaired before it was placed back into service. The court denied the motion, and the defendant was convicted as charged. She then appealed the court’s denial of her motion to suppress.

Regulations Governing the Use of Breathalyzer Tests

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court erred in denying her suppression motion. specifically, she argued that the regulations dictate that the subject device should have been serviced and repaired, rather than merely recalibrated and tested, prior to being placed back into service. Thus, she alleged that because the police did not repair the device, the results of her test should have been suppressed.

The court disagreed. Rather, the court stated that the regulations required the police to test the device for accuracy and calibrations following inconsistent results, and only to service, adjust, or repair the device if necessary. The court elaborated that to interpret the regulations as requiring a repair, adjustment, or service before it was determining that the machine was malfunctioning defied common sense.

In the subject case, the court explained that after the subject device produced inconsistent results, it was taken out of service, recalibrated, and tested, after which it was determined it did not need to be repaired. Further, there was no evidence it malfunctioned after that point. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling on the defendant’s motion to suppress.

Discuss your Charges with a Knowledgeable Pennsylvania DUI Defense Attorney

If you live in Pennsylvania and are currently charged with a DUI crime based on breath testing, it is prudent to meet with an attorney to discuss what evidence the Commonwealth may introduce at trial. Attorney Zachary B. Cooper is a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney who will work diligently to provide you with compelling arguments to help you strive to retain your liberties. You can contact Mr. Cooper via the online form or at (215) 542-0800 to schedule a meeting.