If you have a DUI case pending that involves evidence of breath taken from a breathalyzer machine then this post could be or you. On New Years Eve 2012, A Dauphin County Court handed down a ruling in Commonwealth v. Schildt that held that results from the breathalyzer machine could not be used in evidence when prosecuting the defendant. Mr. Schildt won his case. So what does this mean for the rest of the cases out there that are still pending whose conviction relies on the results of a breathalyzer machine? It means the client could win based on unreliable breathalyzer results.
Here is what is “wrong” with the breathalyzer machines. In layman’ terms, the breathalyzer machine relies on the purity and reliability of what is called “ampoule solution”, which is a crucial portion of the breathalyzer machine that allows breath to be tested for alcohol accurately. This solution needs to be tested for accuracy because a “bad solution” screws up the machine and thus leads to an inaccurate breathalyzer result. The Dauphin County Judge ruled that the Commonwealth could not test this solution sufficiently, thus leading to the conclusion that the solution may have been “bad”, and thus he threw out Mr. Schildt’s case. This is a watershed case in the DUI community and has exposed a flaw in a great many of the breathalyzer machines used in Pennsylvania.
What now? As I write this post – law enforcement has pretty much stopped using breathalyzer machines and is almost exclusively relying on blood tests to ascertain a suspect’s blood alcohol level for fear of using the machines. Philadelphia courts have set aside all the DUI breathalyzer cases for closer examination, and a ruling, as to whether these cases need to be dismissed. This has resulted in experienced DUI lawyers, such as myself, thoughout Montgomery County and the rest of the state, looking to gather DUI cases where breathalyzers have been used so that we may help our clients secure their rights in the face of what is probably faulty scientific evidence that is being used against them in their prosecution.
If you, or someone you know, has a pending DUI charge that involves the use of a breathalyzer machine, it is best to explore using an attorney that who has experience in the “post Schildt” breathalyzer landscape. It could result in the DUI client snatching victory from what may have been the jaws of defeat.