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1,147 Drunk Driving Cases Could Be In Jeopardy In Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In the wake of an exclusive CBS 3 I-Team Investigation that first revealed more than 400 drunken driving cases could be in jeopardy because of an improperly calibrated police breathalyzer, Philadelphia’s Police Commissioner and District Attorney revealed the number of potentially tainted cases has risen to 1,147.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey (below) minced no words.

ramsey charles durham dl1 1,147 Drunk Driving Cases Could Be In Jeopardy In Philadelphia

(Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey on Wednesday. Photos by Michelle Durham)

“We screwed up, folks,” he told reporters this morning at the Police Administration Building. “We screwed up, plain and simple, and now we are paying for it. But we’ve got to get the information out there and make it right. That’s the bottom line.”

coulter christine side durham 1,147 Drunk Driving Cases Could Be In Jeopardy In Philadelphia

(Police inspector Christine Coulter.)

Inspector Christine Coulter (right) says the calibration error was discovered by a defense attorney in court in last month, an audit was conducted, and at this time potentially 1,147 cases between September 2009 and November 2010 could be affected.

The CBS 3 I-Team first reported on March 16th that 416 drunk-driving suspects arrested from November through February were tested with an improperly calibrated unit.

However, during Wednesday’s news conference, police officials said that number has nearly tripled.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey blamed the problems, which involved arrests between September, 2009 and November, 2010, on human error. He says new safeguards to prevent problems like this from happening again are already in place.

District Attorney Seth Williams says letters will now be sent to all suspects, advising them that breathalyzer evidence will not be used against them in court. Suspects already found guilty, or who have pled guilty, will have the option of seking new trials.

The police commissioner says the department is continuing its investigation and the number of drunk driving arrest cases with problems caused by the improperly calibrated Btreathlyzer could go even higher.

Reported by Walt Hunter, CBS 3 and Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio

Top Content On CBSPhilly

  • Terry

    Another thought is that DUI check points infringe on Constitutional rights,

  • Terry

    Philadelphia just continues to be an embarassment, Instead of promoting based on ability the department bases it on race and gender, Let’s meet those quotas. I feel for department veterans everyday.

  • Philadelphia DA Office Scrambles To Rectify DUI SnafuCBS Philly

    […] used to determine if someone is driving under the influence could affect more than 1,100 DUI cases (see related story). Now, the District Attorney’s Office is also implementing new policies to ensure the error […]

  • Frank Graff

    OOOPS! sorry guy’s we made an error, sorry you lost your jobs, and your family thinks your a bad guy, not to mention all those MADD letters. We will do better now.

  • John

    I don’t understand how they are expecting so many “innocent” pleas if it’s simply a calibration error. They can easily test how much the difference was between what the actual BAC was and what the breathalyser read.

    • RsubG

      I guess you’re assuming that the error was linear and accurately wrong every time. I just don’t see a judge buying this argument: “He blew a .12 when we pulled him over. The machine was calibrated wrong and we had our intern graph what it should have been. According to our new measurements we should subtract .03 from the original reading. This means at the time he was pulled over his BAC was .12 – .03 which equals .09; still over the legal limit.”

  • Jim Wilmer

    It is horrible for the innocent. But what about the ones who were really drunk. In the last couple of weeks how many hit and runs? I don’t want drunk or ruthless drivers on the road!!!!

  • grumpy

    The keystone Cops are alive and well!

  • Lou

    Maybe they should start promoting for ability, not race and gender. Just look at these morons.

    • elron hoover

      since they aren’t all white and male they are morons?

      • Terry

        No Elron but the truth is the department does not promote based on ability or qualification,

  • Terry

    Once again leaving anything to a government agency has dire consequences for many

  • Bryan

    Think about all the people who were just under the limit…found guilty…now have lost jobs due to it, have had insurance go through the roof or even dropped…have been stressed out of their minds trying to find transportation to and from wherever…Wasted time sitting in alcohol programs issued due to being falsly accused of being drunk. I say lawyer up and make the city pay for their dumb mistakes…

    If you are going to potentially change someones life with your machines you better have them producing accurate results. Nice job Philly…

    • bob burger

      ain’t that just too bad. all those poor drunks set free. Wait tiill a drunk kills one of your family with a car. See how you feel then

      • Terry

        Bob, you are missing the point.

      • billy

        if u read the article, they may not have been drunk at all. The whole point was that the measuring device was giving incorrect readings.

  • Robert

    Yeay! Government working at best! Maybe we can TAX people stopped – say 20%, since cops didn’t have a chance to ticket us when we were really drunk. Yeah! Yeah, that’s the ticket! You WERE drunk before, and you DID drive! So, here is the ticket, plus 20% for making up for inflation.. oh! oh! And interest! Will charge you only 10% interest. So that would be what 50%? What do you mean 20+10 is 30, not 50%? That will be an additional non-compliance fee for you at an additional 5%! Are you telling the government they cannot count? You fool . . . Welcome to USA. United Socialist Amerika.

  • Kelprod

    I see a few hundred plea deals for “reckless driving” coming up soon. That would be the best route to take.

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