Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County, No. 210 of 1972, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Thomas C. Sweet.
Sherman K. Levine, for appellant.
Paul W. Johnson, Assistant District Attorney, with him Donald E. Williams, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Jacobs, J.
[ 232 Pa. Super. Page 373]
Appellant was convicted by a jury of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor.*fn1 In this appeal he challenges as error the admission into evidence of the results of a breathalyzer chemical intoxication test, and asserts that the judge committed error in permitting certain cross-examination of a district magistrate.
At the trial two police officers testified to appellant's demeanor at the time of his arrest. They testified that his
[ 232 Pa. Super. Page 374]
vehicle veered across lanes of traffic, that when he was stopped he had difficulty getting out of his car, that he was disoriented, had the odor of alcohol on his breath and had difficulty with standard coordination tests. He was then placed under arrest and taken to the police barracks where he was administered a breathalyzer test which showed a blood alcohol reading of .20 percent.*fn2
The breathalyzer test is a chemical intoxication test designed to determine the alcoholic content of a breath sample provided by a suspect. The sample, which is introduced by having the suspect blow alveolar air into a tube, bubbles through a test ampoule. The ampoule is a glass container holding three cubic centimeters of a .025 percent potassium dichromate in a 50 percent solution of sulphuric acid. The alcohol in the breath sample effects a change in color and in the light transmissibility of the solution correlative to the amount of alcohol present. The change in light transmissibility is registered on a meter which calculates the degree of alcohol in the circulatory system of the suspect. See People v. Hitch, 11 Cal. 3d 159, 520 P.2d 974, 113 Cal. Rptr. 158 (1974).
After the test is completed the police officer verifies the accurate operation of the machine by using a reference solution containing a known .10 percent alcohol solution. If the machine records a .10 percent reading the officer assumes the accuracy of the suspect's test and the procedure is completed.
The appellant argues, and the Commonwealth concedes, that at trial no competent evidence was adduced to establish that the test ampoules contained accurate chemical solutions or that the reference solution was accurately prepared. The appellant contends that an ...