Breathalyzers Test Results Ruled Inadmissible Pending Reforms

In a ruling certain to affect thousands of cases, District Court Judge Robert Brenna has ruled that no Breathalyzer tests administered in Massachusetts can be used in Court until the state’s Office of Alcohol Testing (OAT) undergoes major reforms. Judge Brennan further held that OAT must prove that its results are accurate.

The reforms required by the Court include the providing of additional training for staff and instituting rule for complying with discovery requests by defense attorneys. The discovery compliance rules must be similar to those followed by the state police’s crime management unit.

Judge Brenan’s ruling is based in part on an investigation of OAT in 2017 by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. That investigation “identified various instances of intentional withholding of exculpatory evidence, blatant disregard of court orders, and other errors, all underscored by a longstanding and insular institutional culture that was reflexively guarded at OAT.”

OAT plans to apply for accreditation from a national accreditation board by August of 2019.  OAT also has indicated that it is providing the mandated additional staff training and putting in place new standards and procedures for compliance with discovery requests.

Judge Brenan has further held that OAT cannot use the tests in court until it proves that its methodology will produce scientifically accurate results. Judge Brennan’s ruling held that this can be accomplished by the filing of an application for accreditation that is likely to be successfully approved. The accreditation application and discovery protocols must also be made public.

If you have a pending OUI case involving a Breathalyzer test, you need experienced counsel to represent you. Attorney Schutzbank has ample experience in OUI case. Please contact our office to set up a consultation.

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