Admissibility of Breath Test Evidence

On November 16, 2011, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania issued a decision that addresses the admissibility of breath test evidence in a DUI case. In the case, the defense tried to prevent evidence of the breath test results from being admitted into evidence at trial by arguing that the technician who had calibrated the breath testing device must testify at trial.

The prosecution sought to prove the accuracy of the device by admitting the calibration logs into the evidence. The Superior Court ruled in favor of the prosecution and held that the calibration logs were not "testimonial" in nature and thereby were admissible without infringing the defendant's right to confront witnesses against them.

The Ruling Impacts Centre County DUI Investigations

How does this recent case affect people in State College and Central Pennsylvania? In DUI investigations in Centre County, individuals who are arrested for suspicion of DUI are transported to a local hospital, generally the Mount Nittany Medical Center, located near the Penn State Campus in State College, for a withdrawal of blood. The blood is then generally tested by a hospital laboratory to determine blood alcohol concentration.

The recent ruling will allow the prosecution to admit calibration and accuracy logs for the blood testing equipment that is used by the hospital labs. The hospital personnel who actually withdrew the blood and subjected it to testing would still be required to appear in court and testify, as the DUI suspect would have a constitutional right to confront those witnesses.

It Also Applies in Speeding and Other Traffic Cases

This recent decision can also have an impact on speeding cases in Centre County. Aside from the locals, many people are caught speeding in Centre County while traveling to and from events on the Penn State Campus. Many of those speeders are caught by Pennsylvania State Troopers who are using radar devices to gauge speed.

In order to admit the radar results into evidence at a hearing, the prosecution must present evidence that the radar had been calibrated. The recent decision will allow for the admission of the radar results if the appropriate calibration documentation is presented to the court, and the prosecution will not need to present testimony from the person who actually tested the device.

Was Your Blood or Breath Tested? Contact JD Law For Help.

If you registered above a .08 blood alcohol content or police used a radar gun determine you were driving above the speed limit, it is important to remember that your case is not over. Call us at 814-954-1094 or send us an email and learn more about how we can help you in a free initial consultation.