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Pennsylvania Court to Hear Challenge to Breathalyzer Evidence

A Pennsylvania district attorney's office is appealing a County Judge's ruling that could potentially derail pending and recently determined DUI cases.

Early this year, Dauphin County Judge Lawrence F. Clark Jr. determined that the type of breathalyzer machine used by police in Pennsylvania could not be considered accurate beyond a reading of .15 percent. This is a problem for prosecutors, as under Pennsylvania law the highest level of DUI impairment is considered .15 and above. To be found guilty under that statute, which carries the most serious penalties for DUI, the driver must register a reading of .16 or greater.

Like Virginia, under Pennsylvania law, a person may not drive a vehicle with a BAC of .08 or higher. The ruling comes at a time when there is pending litigation in other states questioning the validity of breathalyzer testing. Judge Clark also ruled that any prosecutions secured by using evidence provided by the breathalyzer in question should be regarded as questionable.

In response to the ruling, the Dauphin County district attorney's office appealed to the state Superior Court. This is a calculated risk, because as of now Judge Clark's ruling only affects Dauphin County; if the appellate court agrees, the case could have state-wide ramifications.

Being charged with a DUI is a serious matter, and could have long term legal, financial, and employment-related consequences. As a result, it is important to consult with an attorney who knows how to handle DUI cases. There are many potential defenses in a DUI case, such as challenging the calibration of the breathalyzer machine, challenging the reasons for the initial stop, any medical conditions a person may have, or problems in the way sobriety tests were administered. In order to determine whether you have a case, it is important to consult with an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney. Wilfred Yeargan is a Fairfax criminal defense lawyer who is dedicated to protecting the rights of Virginians accused of crimes. Mr. Yeargan provides individualized representation and is dedicated to securing the best possible outcome for each client he represents. To schedule a consultation, contact the office today by phone or by email by filling out the contact form on the right side of this page.

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