Bad Breathalyzer

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Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 8:32am

Breathalyzer used in over one thousand DUI cases is faulty.

Law enforcement officials in Philadelphia say more than a thousand drunk-driving cases could be affected by faulty breathalyzer tests because some of the department's machines were improperly calibrated.

"We screwed up, folks," Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said at a news conference Wednesday. "We screwed up, plain and simple. And now we're paying for it."

Ramsey says a defense attorney discovered a discrepancy in test results last month and notified police.

Joe Kelly, a Defense Attorney who specializes in DUI cases says he discovered the bad breathalyzers.

“Anytime we defend somebody in a DUI case -- we ask for discovery in every case -- some of that discovery is accuracy and calibration of every machine,” Kelly said.

Ramsey and District Attorney Seth Williams say 1,147 DUI cases dating from September 2009 are now in doubt.

Some of Kelly clients are already challenging their rulings, Kelly said.

Williams says convicted defendants will be offered new trials but some of the cases will hold up because they're based on other factors, including blood tests.

A state police breath-test expert is checking the city's eight machines.

Ramsey says the faulty calibration was due to “human error.”

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