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What is the controversy surrounding Massachusetts breathalyzers?

Beginning in 2017, serious concerns arose over the accuracy of Massachusetts’ breathalyzers. The model concerned is the Draeger 9510 Alcotest. Nearly ten thousand of the 9510-model machines entered use in Massachusetts beginning in 2011. While there are also concerns about an earlier model used in the Commonwealth, the Draeger Alcotest 7110, it is the newer model that has provoked numerous legal challenges, and with good reason.

In February 2017, a judge ruled that while the 9510 model may be accurate on its own, Massachusetts law enforcement agencies have improperly calibrated the machines as a matter of routine. By August of that same year, state district attorneys ordered a halt to the use of the machines’ results in court. The August announcement was prompted, in part, because the state had failed to turn in four hundred pages of documents that detailed occasions on which the 9510 model had been improperly calibrated.

As of August 24, 2018, a judge has accepted the district attorneys’ request to widen the evidentiary exclusion of breathalyzer results to include those from 2011 through to the end of 2017. As a result, almost forty thousand DUI cases are thrown into question because of tainted breathalyzer evidence. Moving forward, police may use other, more subjective, standards to determine someone’s intoxication: coordination, clarity of speech, and appearance.

Given the demonstrated inaccuracy of the Draeger Alcotest 9510 as used in Massachusetts, there is great potential for convictions to be thrown out. Contact our office today to discuss your options.

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