Breathalyzer results deemed unreliable, thousands of cases impacted

Defense lawyers argued the machines weren't calibrated correctly

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Thousands of drunk driving cases could be in danger of being dismissed in Massachusetts due to a court decision; and some people who've already been convicted of Operating Under the Influence, might want to file an appeal.

The I-Team first told you about this story back in May. Now, a judge ruled that the breathalyzer machine police in Massachusetts used, produced unreliable results.

Any breath test results from any Dräger 9510 machine from June of 2012 to September 14, 2014 are scientifically unreliable; which is based on Boston District Court Judge Robert Brennan's decision issued on Thursday.

Defense lawyers argued the machines weren't calibrated correctly, causing unreliable results. Forensic scientist Thomas Workman estimates more than 20,000 cases in Massachusetts are impacted by this decision.

“You can't just take the government at their word;” Springfield Attorney Joseph Bernard was one of a handful of attorneys who challenged the reliability of these breathalyzers. He said anyone convicted of drunk driving needs to talk to a lawyer.

“If the conviction was based on results that are now being claimed unreliable, it could be the result of maybe withdrawing a plea, or even having a new trial.” Attorney Bernard said in many cases, these unreliable breathalyzer results were the only piece of evidence.

He said even if you pleaded guilty, you could still have a good case to overturn your conviction; “That plea might have been the result of that citizen not knowing those particular tests were unreliable! Any instruments like this that are going to be putting people in jail or taking licenses away, mandates some precision.”

Attorney Bernard said the precision of the breathalyzers being used now is still being tested, and the state can appeal this ruling, and would be able to challenge any appeals on a case-by-case basis.

Click Here to read the court decision on the breath tests.

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