Defendant successfully challenges the reliability of the breath testing machine in Pennsylvania

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In a recent opinion from the Court of Common Pleas in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the defendant Jason Schildt’s lower court conviction for DUI/drunk driving was overturned after an evidentiary hearing revealed that the breath testing machine was not reliable. The written opinion in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v Jason Richard Schildt, opinion number 2191 CR 2010, was issued by Judge Lawrence Clark, Jr. on December 31, 2012. Judge Clark held that the majority of breath testing devices presently being utilized in Pennsylvania, and in particular the Intoxilyzer 5000, as those machines are presently calibrated and utilized in Pennsylvania, are not capable of providing a legally acceptable blood alcohol content reading. This is so because these devices’ operational calibration and subsequent display of a BAC reading for an individual cannot be reliably and scientifically verified due to the limited operational field calibration range of .05 percent to .15 percent. Therefore, the utilization of any breath test machine reading either above or below that range (.05 percent-.15 percent) cannot, as a matter of science and law, satisfy the Commonwealth’s burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt on an essential element of a charged defense of DUI/drunk driving in that category of the Pennsylvania motor vehicle code.

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