As is becoming a recurring theme across the country, another district attorney is forced to answer questions about the flawed data obtained from breathalyzers, which begs the question, why are State College and Pennsylvania police still using them? Recently, CBS News aired a national report on the Silcon Valley Mercury News reporting of the San Francisco police department’s fiasco with using breathalyzers to arrest and convict individuals of DUI. Since 2006, San Francisco police have been using portable handheld breathalyzers to measure the BAC of suspected DUI drivers, similar to the portable handheld breathalyzers used by local State College police and Centre County police departments. According to the report, San Francisco public defender, Jeff Adachi, determined that local police were failing to conduct the proper tests on the portable breathalyzers used in the field to arrest individuals suspected of DUI. The manual for the breathalyzers as well as internal police department protocol required the machines to be tested every ten days. As Mr. Adachi found out, in many instances this testing was simply not being done by the police. More significantly, when the breathalyzers were supposedly being tested, the police department log books indicated that the breathalysers always read .082. In a statement of the obvious, Mr. Adachi noted that, “this is mathematically impossible” and “a very serious issue.” At stake is potentially 4000-5000 wrongful convictions of DUI. Understanding the true seriousness of the issue, former San Francisco Police Chief and current San Francisco District Attorney, George Gascon, stated the following:
“I don’t know how many of you have run large organizations, but even within your own shop, if you know what your secretary is doing every day, I would like to hire you and find out what your secrets are. “
Thankfully, Mr. Gascon when my secretary makes a mistake, the worst thing that happens is that I end up with a biter cup of coffee, and not a wrongful conviction for DUI. It is no secret that these machines are prone to errors and finding the right State College DUI lawyer can be the difference between a biter cup of coffee, and wrongful conviction for DUI.