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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 12, 2017 11:23 AM
From: Representative Thomas P. Murt
To: All House members
Subject: Pre-arrest Breath Tests (Prior HB 1016)
I plan to reintroduce legislation that will amend Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to correct a void that exists following the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Commonwealth v. Brigidi.

A PBT is an electronic handheld breath alcohol tester. In the Brigidi case, the court held the use of the PBT as trial evidence was impermissible since there was nothing to establish the reliability of the test and no statute authored it in connection with an underage drinking case. Though the prosecution pointed to Vehicle Code Section §1547(k), which permits the use of a PBT to determine whether or not an individual may be placed under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol, the Supreme Court determined that it was improper to justify the use and admission of a PBT test under the Crimes Code, since the statutory authority to do so rests within the Vehicle Code.

This bill will amend Title 18 to allow a police officer to utilize a PBT to determine if a minor has consumed alcohol. It will furthermore allow a positive test result to be offered as evidence that a minor has consumed alcohol in violation of Title 18 if the device is approved by the Department of Health to determine if alcohol has been consumed.


Introduced as HB1004