Burke Levy, P.C.

OUI/DWI charges might be affected by Breathalyzer cover-up

Drivers suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol are often asked to submit to Breathalyzer tests. These are used to determine a person's blood-alcohol content, which can then be used as evidence regarding OUI/DWI charges. However, these devices are not infallible and must be calibrated correctly to be effective.

A Massachusetts official was recently fired for allegedly withholding information about Breathalyzer devices that had been improperly calibrated. Investigators made it clear that the woman had intentionally withheld evidence about the improperly calibrated devices. A report also noted that she failed to seek help from legal resources to which she had access, and failed to provide important documents to drunk driving suspects.

Evidence was also withheld from a group of individuals accused of drunk driving who challenged how reliable the Breathalyzer equipment was. The initial documentation provided by the court showed only 11 failures, but hundreds of documented failures and improper calibrations had been withheld. In Feb. 2017, a judge ruled that BAC results from Breathalyzer devices calibrated between June 2012 and Sept. 2014 are not to be used to prosecute drivers. There is an exception if the prosecution can definitely prove that the device used was calibrated correctly.

Massachusetts OUI/DWI charges can have profound impacts on the lives of those who have been accused of drunk driving. Many of these charges hinge on recorded BAC, and unfortunately tests are not always accurate or calibrated correctly. Defendants who believe that the BAC they registered at the time of their arrest was incorrect are usually well-advised to respond to their charges in a timely manner in order to achieve the best possible outcome for their unique situation.

Source: masslive.com, "Head of Massachusetts Office of Alcohol Testing fired after agency accused of holding evidence of improperly calibrated breathalyzers", Phil Demers, Oct. 17, 2017

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