Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Breathalyzer Drama Comes to an End

The ongoing drama involving faulty breathalyzer tests in the Commonwealth may see an end with a victory for some and defeat for others. The journey to this point has been a statewide saga involving law enforcement, defendants, attorneys, prosecutors, and the court. Here is some background to bring you up to speed on this evolving issue that impacts so many people facing OUI/DUI charges in Massachusetts.

In 2011, Massachusetts introduced a new breath-test machine called the Alcotest 9510. The device was manufactured by Draeger Safety Diagnostics Inc. of Irving, Texas. However, some say the Alcotest 9510 was not tailored to the Commonwealth's regulations and was not operating correctly during some tests. In fact, the state's Executive Office of Public Safety and Security said that some breathalyzer machines were never programmed with the accurate calibration settings for the state. On the other side of the story, a small number of breath tests conducted by law enforcement on suspected drunk drivers were not accurate because of mistakes made by the arresting officer and not because the machines were not working properly. Does the truth lie somewhere in the middle? You need to ask a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.

Meanwhile, over 500 defendants have joined a consolidated case that is being heard in Concord District Court that challenges the reliability of the breathalyzer test and seeks to exclude blood-alcohol readings from the drunk driving cases involed. Furthermore, hundreds of drunk driving cases in Massachusetts have been put on hold as a judge prepares to rule on whether the evidence produced by Alcotest 9510 is sound and admissible in court.

The verdict is now out in this ever-changing saga of the faulty breathalyzer tests. Recently, Judge Robert Brennan, Justice of the District Court, gave his ruling in this matter. "Accordingly, the Court DENIES the consolidated defendants’ Motion to Exclude Breath Alcohol Content Percentage Results Using the Alcotest 9510 and Any Opinion Testimony for any breathalyzer results from a machine calibrated and certified after September 14, 2014, but ALLOWS the motion as to any results produced by a device calibrated and certified between June of 2012 and September 14, 2014, subject to the possibility of a case-by-case demonstration of the reliability of OAT’s calibration of a particular device to a trial judge in the court in which the Commonwealth seeks to offer the result as evidence." (COMMONWEALTH v. EVANDO ANANIAS, CHRISTIAN FIGUEROA, AND OTHERS)

In his 33-page decision, Judge Brennan, ruled that the between June 2012 and September 14, 2014 the Alcotest 9510 did not produce scientifically reliable blood-alcohol readings in the Commonwealth. This is a victory for those whose drunk and driving arrests occurred prior to September 14, 2014 but a crushing defeat for those whose arrests took place after this date. The evidence revealed from Alcotest 9510 could be included in your court case.

If you want to know how this recent ruling will affect your pending OUI/DUI case in Massachusetts consult a criminal defense attorney. An OUI/DUI conviction can have devastating effects on your professional and personal life. Boston Criminal Defense Attorney, Edward Molari can provide you with legal advice that may help reduce the punishment or lessen the charge. He cares about your situation and provides personalized legal services in every case.  Contact Attorney, Edward Molari at 617-942-1532 for a free consultation.