When a police officer suspects someone of driving under the influence, a chemical test is usually requested to determine the driver’s blood alcohol content. One common method is analyzing a sample of the driver’s breath. They can use either a portable or stationary device for this purpose. Before administering the test, the driver is provided with a DL – 26 form, also known as the “O’Connell warning,” which serves as an implied consent statement. It’s important to note that these devices have their share of issues. However, if a person agrees to the test and their blood alcohol content measures at 0.08 or higher, they will be charged with DUI. Mistakes made by device operators and technical problems can sometimes result in the dismissal of drunk driving charges.
Pennsylvania Breath Tests and How They Work
Let’s now delve into how breath tests work in Pennsylvania. There are generally two types:
Portable or preliminary breath tests (PBT): These tests are carried out on suspected drunk drivers at the roadside by law enforcement officers. Commonly used devices include Intoxilyzer 500, AlcoCheck, and BACmaster. The suspected driver is asked to blow into the portable device, and the results may be used as probable cause for further testing. While the portable breath test displays results on an LCD screen and doesn’t provide printouts, the driver has the right to refuse this test, and its results are not admissible in court.
Evidential or stationary breath tests (EBT): Stationary breath tests are conducted using larger machines located at police stations. Refusing to take this test can lead to severe penalties. PennDOT regulations require multiple breath samples to ensure reliability. The results of these tests are printed out and can be used as evidence in court. Approved machines for use in Pennsylvania include Alco test, DataMaster, and Breathalyzer models.
Errors in Breath Test Machines
Breath test machines are commonly used to analyze blood alcohol content and are generally regarded as accurate. However, it’s important to be aware of the various issues that can lead to false positive results. Let’s explore some common problems encountered:
- Software glitches or bugs
- Environmental factors
- Electromagnetic interference (EMI) or radiofrequency interference (RFI)
- Overestimation of BAC due to assumed blood breath partition ratio
- Improper maintenance
- Inclusion of non-ethyl alcohol substances in test results
Breath Test Operator Mistakes
It is crucial to understand that the accuracy of breath test devices relies heavily on the expertise of the test operators. Mistakes or oversights during the process can result in the dismissal of DUI cases, as the blood alcohol content cannot be considered as evidence. Let’s take a closer look at potential mistakes made by officials, including police officers, during breath tests:
- Breath test administered by a non-certified police officer
- Test conducted during the peak absorption period
- Significant variation in BAC samples
- Failure to collect breath samples within the required time frame
- Neglecting to conduct the mandatory observation period
- Inadequate calibration of the breath test machine
Breath Test Machines in DUI Cases
When it comes to DUI cases in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, three breath test machines play a crucial role in assessing potential alcohol impairment: the Intoxilyzer 8000, the DataMaster, and the Intoxilyzer 5000. Washington PA criminal attorneys handling Driving Under the Influence cases must have a comprehensive understanding of each machine, as they operate differently and have unique programming. Scrutinizing law enforcement officers, state troopers, and other machine operators regarding their methods and qualifications is essential for mounting successful defenses for their clients.
Proficient Washington PA DUI attorneys analyze two main aspects when defending clients against breath test-based DUI charges. Firstly, they closely examine the calibration of the breath test machine used. Questions about the completion date of the calibration, the person responsible for it, and their training are crucial. The accuracy of the machine calibration is of utmost importance.
Secondly, the machine operator plays a key role. Is the operator currently licensed or has their license expired? Have they kept up with ongoing training on machine usage and advancements? Did they conduct the test correctly on the individual? Operator error significantly increases the chances of a case being dismissed, and this aspect holds significant weight when building a defense.
Fortunately for DUI defendants, many breath test machines used in Pennsylvania have been proven to be defective. A State Supreme Court ruling a few years ago rendered them ineffective. As a result, it is relatively feasible to have Blood Alcohol Concentration readings from the machine suppressed or dismissed entirely when subjected to a breath test. However, it is more common for blood tests to be utilized instead of breath tests.
Are you facing charges for Driving Under the Influence of alcohol? Have you taken a breath test and now find yourself in need of an experienced Washington DUI attorney who possesses an in-depth understanding of breath test machines? Look no further, because the Logue Criminal Defense team is here to provide you with the expertise and knowledge necessary to fight your charges.
At Logue Law Group, we proudly serve Washington, PA, West Virginia, and Ohio. Take advantage of our free initial consultation by reaching out to us today at (844) PITT-DUI or (412) 389-0805. You can also easily contact us online.
Don’t delay! Driving Under the Influence charges carry severe consequences, and the use of unreliable machines and improperly trained operators can seriously jeopardize your freedom. The longer you wait to secure legal representation, the more difficult it becomes to dismiss or reduce your charges. With Sean Logue and his associates at Logue Law Group, you’ll have a dedicated team working tirelessly to help get your life back on track. Take that critical first step and call now!
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