Judge rules on breath test exclusions in Massachusetts OUI prosecutions

Massachusetts

BOSTON (WWLP) – The battle over breathalyzers continues, more than six years after the Department of Public Safety found out the machines might not have been properly calibrated.

The state stopped using Breath tests as evidence in court since then, and a judge ruled this week that that will continue pending further litigation.

The 22News I-Team first told you about the legal battle in 2017, after public safety investigators discovered the Office of Alcohol Testing withheld hundreds of documents, that proved breathalyzer machines had failed annual inspections, and might not have been properly calibrated.

The machines in question, the Draeger 9510 breathalyzers. The state had detected a number of tests using that machine were flawed. In 2015, several District Attorney’s in the state suspended the use of breath tests as evidence in cases going back to 2011.

Judge Robert Brennan ruled this week that results still can’t be used in OUI cases in the state, meaning if someone is scheduled to go to court soon for an OUI charge and the only evidence against them is a breathalyzer result, the case will likely get thrown out.

Attorney Joseph Bernard has been concerned about breath test results for years. “People are going to jail and people are losing their licenses. They really need to recognize that they have to get this right. You can’t just get close to the mark. They have to be on the mark.”

Bernard wants the courts to rely on field sobriety tests and police observations instead of breath test results until the breathalyzer machines are sorted out. The order to prohibit the use of breath tests will likely last for few months until another hearing is scheduled.

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