Maryland residents are likely familiar with the technology that police use to test drivers for their blood-alcohol content called a breathalyzer. As much as we all may love technology, it can cause serious issues for people accused of crimes. Over the past few months, we have seen numerous cases with evidence called into question due to lab practices, and now, a judge in Pennsylvania has challenged the breathalyzer tests in his county.
Hundreds of convictions could be thrown out as a result. The judge found that the accuracy of the breathalyzer machines testing over 0.15 is questionable. Inaccuracies in these tests can have consequences in regards to the types and lengths of sentences for drunk driving charges. The judge claimed that the evidence, then, can't be used in cases for the most serious drunk driving charges. To be convicted for the highest-level of drunk driving offense in the county, the blood-alcohol content of the accused must be at least 0.16 percent.
With the issue of sentencing involved, this case could have serious consequences for those who have already been convicted and sentenced. It is possible, then, that they have been given longer sentences than their alleged crime would carry. Moreover, they could have been wrongfully convicted due to the inaccuracy of the machine.
All those accused and prosecuted for crimes are entitled to a vigorous defense of their rights. For many of those accused of drunk driving, the breathalyzer provides the majority, and sometimes the only, evidence in the case. If the accuracy of this information is called into question, a case may be dismissed or the charge may be changed.
Source: The Patriot News, "Dauphin County DA to appeal breathalyzer ruling that defense experts say could have major impact on DUI cases," Matt Miller, Jan. 3, 2013