Trafford police suspend use of DUI breath tests
Trafford police this month joined the state police in discontinuing their use of breath testing in suspected drunken-driving cases while the technology is scrutinized before a state appellate court.
Capt. Carmen Disso said he suspended his department's use of its DataMaster breath-test devices after learning about calibration issues from the district attorney's offices in the region. Instead of using a breath test, police will drive a suspect to a hospital for a blood test to determine intoxication, Disso said.
“We don't know what will come of it,” Disso said. “We'll play it by ear. In the meantime, we'll be on the side of caution.”
The situation arises from a Dauphin County judge's December ruling that breath tests are not accurate at levels beyond 0.15 percent. Pennsylvania motorists who have a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.08 percent are considered to be impaired.
Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico appealed the judge's ruling to the state Superior Court.
Though state police announced at the end of January that they would use only blood testing, Pittsburgh police said this month that they would continue to use breath tests.
The court case won't affect the Manor or Penn Township police departments, which only use blood testing. Penn Township police Chief John Otto said the situation was a topic during a recent meeting of Westmoreland County police chiefs.
“It's definitely got people talking,” he said.
Disso said Trafford police have had the devices for about five years, but not all of his eight officers were certified to use them.
“The benefit (of a breath test) is it keeps my officers in the borough instead of going to a hospital,” he said.
Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penn-Trafford School District identifies fired employees
- Harrison City-Export Road work could extend through September
- Penn Township turnpike ramp not top priority
- Penn Township buying $30K worth of technology upgrades
- Drilling interest could prompt zoning changes in Penn Township