Superior Court Vacates Sentence For DUI Because of Margin of Error

Filed under: DUI by Contributor @ May 1, 2014

On April 8, the Superior Court issued its opinion in Commonwealth v. Landis, 2014 WL 1369592, in which it granted a new trial following a DUI – Highest rate of alcohol conviction and the Juniata County trial judge’s denial of the defendant’s post-sentence motion for a new trial. The technician at the hospital to which the defendant, Daniel Landis, II, was taken only took one sample of Landis’s blood on an Avid Axsym machine, which indicated a BAC of .164. At trial, Landis’s attorney asked the technician on cross-examination about the Avid Axsym’s margin of error, to which the technician specified that the machine had a 10% margin of error (i.e., Landis’s BAC could have been between .147, a Tier 2 DUI, and .180). On the Commonwealth’s redirect examination, the technician did not specify the distribution of the margin of error or whether it was more likely that Landis’s BAC was towards the center or the edges of the margin of error. Since Landis’s BAC could have been lower than the .16 threshold for a Tier 3 DUI, the technician took only one sample of Landis’s blood, and the Commonwealth proffered no additional evidence of Landis’s intoxication on how to apply the 10% margin of error, the Superior Court found that the trial court judge had abused its discretion in denying the post-sentence motion for a new trial and vacated Landis’s sentence.

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