Readers of our blog may recall much discussion of the recent DUI case Commonwealth v. Schildt, where a Dauphin County judge ruled that BAC results from the Intoxilyzer 5000 breathalyzer were unreliable and invalid. That decision called another 19 Tier 3 DUI cases in that county into question and raised the issue of the inherent inaccuracy and failure to follow proper procedures with regard to all breathalyzers. Not surprisingly the Commonwealth appealed the decision, and the Superior Court issued its opinion today.
The Superior Court’s unpublished, non-precedential decision is remarkably anticlimactic, choosing to sidestep the issue of breathalyzers entirely. Instead of assessing the merits of the case and discussing the reliability of the devices, the court instead reversed and remanded the case on the grounds that the Common Pleas judge prematurely decided the issue by granting a habeas corpus petition instead of addressing the issues at trial. According to the Superior Court, a habeas challenge is not the proper procedural mechanism to call into question the Commonwealth’s evidence or lack thereof. Schildt will likely petition for permission to appeal the Superior Court’s decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. We will provide updates as this case progresses.