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Pa. Lawyer Wants To Do Away With Breathalyzers

DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (KDKA) -- A Pennsylvania lawyer has filed a request to throw out breath testing for alcohol in the state, just a week after a judge ruled the tests aren't accurate for analyzing alcohol in the blood.

With five DUI Task Forces and the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County accounts for the largest number of DUI cases in the state and a big chunk of the court cases.

"I think they constitute maybe 25 to 35 percent here in Allegheny County," said Bob Del Greco, a defense attorney.

At issue are breathalyzer tests, which Dauphin County Common Pleas Court Judge Lawrence Clark ruled last week were not reliable in cases above .15 or under .05.

DUI attorney Justin McShane told KDKA's John Shumway by phone Tuesday from Harrisburg: "We cannot as a modern society have faith and belief in these tests anymore."

So he filed a new motion on Monday.

"What we are looking to do is to dismiss all breath testing result charges that are currently pending and reopen old ones that are a year and 90 days within that time bar," said McShane.

Sgt. Terry Donnelly, who leads Pittsburgh's DUI Task Force, says the machines are calibrated by an expert and a DUI suspect has already been given two field type sobriety tests before the machine gets involved. So the resulting bar graph is more of a confirmation.

Some departments have abandoned breathalyzers, using only blood tests. Pittsburgh still uses the machines.

"It gives you a more immediate result," said Sgt. Donnelly. "You don't have to wait two to three weeks, whatever, to get your blood results back from the county laboratories."

If the Dauphin County judge sides with McShane, and he already has once....

"And to the extent that the Superior Court or Supreme Court adopts his rationale and agrees with his holding, the repercussions could be vast," said Del Greco.

No word on when the judge will rule.

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