More than 1,100 drunken-driving cases reaching back to September 2009 are now under review in Philadelphia. Faulty Breathalyzers are to blame.
That’s more than double the number of cases police previously acknowledged to be in jeopardy.
Several wrongly calibrated machines rendered incorrect blood-alcohol level readings. District Attorney Seth Williams said evidence using BAC readings from the faulty machines is now inadmissible in court. “In some of the cases, we will not be able to have the Breathalyzer. But despite that, there still could be evidence to prove a person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. If defendants were acting intoxicated or failed field sobriety or blood tests, they won’t be off the hook, according to Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. “Will it cause some problems in the court system? Absolutely it probably will. But we’d rather do that and make sure that people have received the kind of justice that they’re entitled to than gloss over it and let things stand as wrong,” he said. “We screwed up, folks. We screwed up plain and simple. And now we’re paying for it.” Ramsey said the current number of compromised cases could grow. Letters will be sent to the defendants in affected cases so that they can determine if they wish to have a new trial. The department handles roughly 10,000 drunken-driving cases a year.